On 7 July 2017, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs published initial results of a consumer survey conducted in preparation of the review of the EU Energy Labelling Regulation on washing machines. The study aimed at gaining better insights into consumers' behaviour, for instance when selecting washing cycles. The results were also passed on to the European Commission by the ministry, so as to encourage the Commission to adjust the EU Energy Label to make it more relevant by improving the criteria and requirements under the relevant energy efficiency tests.
One of the tasks of the European Commission is to adopt the product-specific regulations that govern the EU Energy Label. The EU regulation that applies to washing machines is among those currently under review.
Said : "One of the key objectives for German negotiators in Brussels is . We can make a key contribution to this by feeding the results of the consumer survey into the discussions at European level, thus making an important contribution to the review of the energy labelling regulations. Our goal is to bring the requirements that apply in the testing procedures better into line with consumers' actual behaviour, whilst also creating additional incentives for energy saving. This is why the study also picks up on key requests voiced by environmental organisations Clasp, Ecos, EEB and Topten, who, in a recent study on appliance tests, had criticised that these tests do not reflect actual consumer behaviour and that the electricity consumption figures cited are too low."
The European Commission stipulates pan-European product-specific regulations applying under the EU Energy Label. The EU Energy Labelling Regulation was adopted by the Council and the European Parliament in June 2017. It sets out new basic rules underpinning the EU Energy Label. This means that the many 'plus' categories will be abandoned in favour of a clear and easy-to-understand system stretching from A to G (A = green and very efficient to G = red with low efficiency). These changes will now be implemented, starting in the second half of 2017, requiring a number of product-specific regulations to be passed. These product-specific regulations will spell out the details of the basic rules agreed in the framework regulation. Apart from the regulations on washing machines, there will be others for refrigerators, dishwashers, TV sets, and lighting.
The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is actively involved in these reviews. The ministry has worked with the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control in commissioning a study that seeks to identify better requirements to be imposed on efficiency testing procedures for washing machines. The study, which was conducted by Ökoinstitut and the University of Bonn, serves the purpose of developing testing procedures that better replicate actual consumer behaviour. It found
- that, whilst the label refers to the appliances' energy-saving cycles, consumers tend to use the shorter standard cycles for cotton materials much more often than the energy-saving programmes (35% vs. 21% for 40° cycles / 24% vs 15% for 60° cycles);
- that they are willing to opt for more energy-efficient cycles provided that these last no longer than three hours;
- that they are using the new energy saving cycles “Eco 30-60°C” for laundry that requires only a light wash and “Eco 40-60°C” for laundry that requires a normal wash, and that they are mixing loads more; and
- that these new combined programmes use up to 8% less water and up to 15% less energy.