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Energy efficiency labels explained

With huge increases in energy costs affecting UK households into 2023, it’s difficult to save money by switching your deal. The focus is now on reducing your energy usage to keep bills at a manageable level, and one way to do that is to ensure that your appliances are as energy-efficient as possible.
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What is an energy efficiency label?

When investing in a new fridge, washing machine, TV or dishwasher, it’s more important than ever to look at the energy efficiency label. These were introduced by the EU in 1995 to provide customers with more information about the machines they were considering purchasing, and to stimulate competition and innovation between manufacturers. Previously, the scale ran from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient), and then extra “A” ratings were added to reward the best appliances: A+, A++ and A+++.

In March 2021, though, these extra ratings were scrapped and the system now runs from A to G, as it originally did. However, the ‘A’ rating is reserved, so a product may go from being ‘A+++’ rated under the previous system down to a B, C or even a D in the new system.

However, some shops are still selling appliances with labels showing the old rating system, which can be confusing for customers unsure what they should be looking for. While it’s possible to save on the initial purchase of the appliance, an inefficient appliance will then cost more to run over its lifetime.

What does the new energy efficiency label look like?

Energy efficiency label (old)
Energy efficiency label

On the left, we can see the old energy efficiency label, and on the right we can see the new version, which is clearly rated “B” at the top. On the left, we can see the old rating system that runs to A+++. This is the main difference to look out for.

The kWh rating on the new label here applies to the amount of energy that will be used per 100 cycles but, depending on the appliance, it might apply to the amount of energy used per year or per 1,000 hours. 

Underneath the kWh rating is an area for “extra information”. Again, this will vary depending on the type of appliance:

  • Dishwasher: the number of place settings, the amount of water use per wash, the duration of the wash and the noise level as it runs (rated in decibels and on a A-D rating)

  • Fridges: the capacity of chilled and/or frozen compartments in litres and the noise volume as it runs

  • Televisions: the energy rating and consumption when displaying HDR content (assuming it has this feature) and the size, height and pixel width of the screen

  • Washing machines and washer-dryers: the capacity, duration and water consumption of the machine’s eco program and an A-G rating of the spin dry and noise rating of the final spin.

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