Energy labels provide many valuable information about a product. Let's take a closer look at what kind of information is on there and what they mean.
What's an EU energy label?
EU energy labels are a standardised system of energy efficiency ratings issued by the European Union for most domestic appliances. The first EU energy label appeared on an appliance in 1994. Since then, more and more appliance categories have been included in EU Energy Regulations and the labels have been updated various times.
The main purpose of EU energy labels is to collectively cut the energy consumption of home appliances in Europe by doing two things:
- Giving consumers clear comparison criteria and help them choose more energy-efficient products, and
- Encouraging companies to invest in developing ever-more energy-efficient products.
Energy labels include valuable information about an appliance such as the annual energy consumption, noise level or its capacity. It is almost like a little summary of all the things that you need to take into account when looking for a new vacuum cleaner.
What’s on a vacuum cleaner energy label?
Vacuum cleaners are the latest to join the list of EU-regulated appliances, which happened in 2014. While it was a well-received development by consumers, the vacuum cleaner label has not been without controversy. In fact, the label has been annulled by a European court in November 2018.
In 2017, the EU introduced a directive limiting the power of corded vacuum cleaners to 900 W. This regulation still stands despite the annulment of the energy label by European courts.
Today, most vacuum cleaners in shops and online will still carry the latest-version energy label. So without further ado, here is what you need to know about the most recent vacuum cleaner energy label.
Read on to discover what each rating and number means in more detail.
Energy class (A to D)
The energy rating provided by the energy label is a good place to start when considering the performance of a vacuum cleaner. Energy ratings of vacuum cleaners tend to be between A++ to D. As you go up in this scale, vacuum cleaners become a little costlier to purchase, but cheaper to run and better for the environment.
Annual energy consumption (kWh/year)
The annual estimated energy consumption provided on vacuum cleaner energy labels is based on “50 cleaning tasks” which is quite vague in terms getting a real idea of what running the appliance each year might cost. Still, if you know how much you pay per kWh, you can arrive at a rough estimate of how much it will cost you each year to use your vacuum cleaner.
There are two other ratings that are much better indicators of the performance of a vacuum cleaner. Those are the dust pick-up rating on carpets and on hard floors.
Dust reemission (A to D)
Dust remission refers to how much dust escapes from the bag or cylinder in your vacuum cleaner back into the air. The energy label on vacuum cleaners will provide a rating from A to D for dust remission. This rating should be first on your list of things to check if you have a family member with allergies or asthma.
Dust pick-up on hard and carpeted floors (A to D)
The energy label on vacuum cleaners will also provide a rating at how well the appliance picks up dirt from carpets and hard floors. This ranges from A to D. Think about the surfaces in your home and choose a vacuum cleaner whose performance will suit these best.
Noise levels (dB)
The last piece of information on a vacuum cleaner energy label is the operating noise level. Most vacuum cleaners have noise levels of around 80 - 100 dB. As a frame of reference, that’s about as loud as the ringer on a home telephone. Anywhere below 70 dB is considered quiet for vacuum cleaners.
Why should you care about energy-efficiency?
For two basic reasons:
1. Your household budget and
2. The environment
Although more efficient vacuum cleaners tend to be a bit pricier, they cost less to power. Switching to an energy-efficient vacuum cleaner can reduce your energy costs up to 50% and repay that initial investment in a few years.
Energy prices have been increasing everywhere at a higher rate. Our lifestyle requires increasingly greater amounts of energy while the resources are getting thinner. According to the European Commission, your savings could add up to 70 Euros over the lifetime of your appliance. And that’s excluding price increase over time.
You might be thinking “what difference will just one vacuum cleaner make?”. Well, it’s a cumulative effect. Energy-efficiency has never been more important than now where resources are running low and the effects of human life on nature is ever increasing.
If all of Europe would switch to energy efficient vacuum cleaners, a total of 20 TWh (that’s 20 000 000 000 kWh!) of electricity would be saved each year. Plus, an annual 6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) could be prevented from being released into the atmosphere. This is about the total CO2 emission of 8 medium-sized power plants.
What’s the controversy over vacuum cleaner energy labels?
There is a general agreement that the introduction of energy labels to vacuum cleaners helped shift manufacturers’ focus from designing ever-more-powerful (and energy-hungry) motors to more efficient ones that do the job just the same.
Initially many people had concerns about the effect of motor regulations on vacuum cleaners’ suction power. If you can believe it, Europeans have gone through a “vacuum-craze” in the early 2010s when the first such restriction was put in place for a max power of 1 600 W. Vacuum cleaner sales rocketed when people wanted to get that last box of “powerful” vacuum.
Quite the opposite is true. Since 2014, vacuum cleaners on average have become more and more efficient in their cleaning and energy consumption performance.
However, the methods of testing this efficiency have been contested. In the most recent case on November 8, 2018, the European General Court has annulled vacuum cleaner energy labels. The Court has ruled that testing an empty vacuum cleaner fails at replicating real-life use. This means that manufacturers are no longer obligated to display EU energy labels on products.
On the other hand, the EU is gearing up for another major update to its energy regulations in 2020. It’s logical to assume that this announcement might include an updated version of the vacuum cleaner energy label.
Plus, many expect this expansion to include regulations for cordless vacuum cleaners, which have been absent until now. We’ll have to wait until then to see what happens with vacuum cleaner energy regulations.
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