Policy Recommendations

Considerations and lessons learnt in the context of energy labelling

Since the completion of the project and the policy development process for a revised EU energy labelling regulation took place in the same period (Mid 2015 – Mid 2016), the consortium would like to emphasise some key findings from genuine application tools in the market for appliances – in particular the smartphone app ecoGator – based on the EU energy labelling framework. These insights gained from this pilot action for enhanced guidance, supporting consumers at the point of sale in identifying the most efficient products, are intended to benefit stakeholders.

Prerequisites for informed purchase decisions regarding household appliances

Consumers must:

  • Immediately understand whether a product in a shop or online belongs to the most efficient share on the market.
    Labels indicate the respective efficiency class, but do not provide contextual information – meaning it is hard to know if a specific energy class or energy efficiency index (EEI) is actually the best available on the market. For example, A+++ ratings are available for some product types whereas others only go up to A+.
  • Easily get insight on the expected total costs (purchase price and running costs over lifetime) of a given product.
    Since the price at point of sale is only part of the total cost of an appliance – inefficient appliances or large appliances may have very high lifetime running costs, eclipsing the purchase price. With some product lifetimes running up to ten years or more, energy use adds up.
  • Understand all of the information provided on a product’s label beyond its energy efficiency class, such as functional parameters like washing performance and the meaning of symbols.
    Applications such as ecoGator enable this more comprehensive understanding and are therefore essential to increase consumer awareness and empowerment.

Reform of the EU labelling framework legislation

With the reform of the EU labelling framework legislation on 26th November 2015 the Council of the European Union has reached a general approach on the proposal for a Regulation setting a framework for energy efficiency labelling (COM (2015) 341, issued in July 2015), containing the key elements of a label, limited to A – G classes and equipped with a Quick Response (QR) code or any other appropriate consumer- oriented means, and a database serving the needs for dealers, market surveillance authorities and the final customer.

In the light of the revised labelling concept the following aspects are suggested to be considered in the policy making process of EU energy labelling:

  • Harmonisation of the design of individual labels to ensure enabled machine reading, for example via apps, even with limited performance of the in-built camera. In particular it is necessary to include defined alignment of product data and format of numeric values.
  • Include a QR Code or similar features on labels with enhanced capability – both on physical labels in shops and labels displayed online. Product data – contained on the label – should be encoded for example in the QR code alongside a URL linking to the product entry in the future EU labelling database.

This solution would allow instantaneous processing of the product information by a smartphone app – even if there is no or very limited connection to the internet.
Subsequently the data of individual labels could be stored, compared and further contextualised by applying best in class benchmarks and actual electricity tariffs.

A future incorporation of these features and functionalities as an open and uniform standard would allow public or private bodies at national and EU level to further improve developed tools and services like the ecoGator app, aiming at the best possible support of consumers in their individual selection of most efficient products and enabling significant savings of energy and costs.

Future development and next steps

The prize-winning ecoGator app will be continuously maintained, updated and improved by the project partners, even after the completion of the project in January 2016.

The prolonged operation of ecoGator is granted by the thorough integration of the app within all partners’ ongoing activities in the field of consumer information for sustainable energy use.

ecoGator is also offered to key market players as a ‘white label’ version.
Based on specific cooperation agreements the app’s core functionalities, like the label scanner, will be made available to be used in other apps published by third parties, increasing the leverage of this shopping guidance tool throughout Europe.