In focus - Energy Efficiency

Product Energy Efficiency


Washing machine symbolizes product energy efficiency; Quelle: SusanneB

© SusanneB

Framework Directive on the standardized Europe-wide energy efficiency labelling of products

Colour-coded efficiency scales visualise the energy consumption of products and help customers choose energy-efficient products. The scales also fuel competition among manufacturers.

The European Union has defined a framework that governs all of Europe. At its core is the EU Framework Directive 2010/30/EU (PDF: 787 KB) of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 May 2010 on the "indication by labelling and standard product information of the consumption of energy and other resources by energy-related products". It supersedes the previous Energy Labelling Directive 92/75/EEC.

The Directive covers all energy-related products: not just household appliances, but also products for commercial applications as well as products that do not consume energy themselves, but nonetheless have a significant impact on energy consumption (e. g. insulated windows).

Directive 2010/30/EU aims at boosting energy efficiency by providing clear and easy-to-understand consumer information. Ideally, potential buyers will have a better point of reference for their purchase decision thanks to the colour-coded EU energy label (PDF: 240 KB), energy consumption information and other valuable resources.

Transposition of the Framework Directive into German law

The EU Framework Directive on energy efficiency labelling of products was implemented in Germany under the recast Law on Energy Consumption Labelling (EnVKG) and the amended Regulation on Energy Consumption Labelling (EnVKV). Both the law and the regulation entered into force on 17 May 2012 (Official Federal Gazette I p. 1070).

The goal of these two implementing measures is to improve the market surveillance of product labelling. This is done by broadening the federal states' implementation powers and duties (random checks, for example) in keeping with Regulation (EC) No. 765/2008. Well-functioning market surveillance will guarantee equality of competition among companies and ensure that consumer information is correct.

The European Commission's product-specific legal acts state which specific product groups are required to have an EU energy label. These legal acts also specify when the producers' and distributors' duties become effective for the individual product groups, and which transitional measures apply.

Design of the EU energy label

The EU energy label is limited to seven energy efficiency classes. If warranted by technological progress, three additional classes (A+, A++, A+++) can be added above the scale, which currently ranges from A (more efficient) to G (less efficient).

The uniform Europe-wide energy label is language-neutral. In addition to pictograms indicating the energy efficiency class, it gives consumers information about annual energy consumption and other product specifics, for example, the water consumption and water-extraction efficiency of washing machines.

Product-specific acts at European level

The EU Framework Directive serves as a basis for product-specific EU regulations. These European Commission regulations apply directly and are binding on distributors and producers in the EU.

At this moment, there are regulations on 13 product groups. You can access an overview of these regulations and the total number of product groups currently going through the European Commission procedures on the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM) website (only in German).

Amendment of the Regulation on Energy Efficiency Labelling

During EU negotiations on the amendment of the EU Regulation on Energy Efficiency Labelling, Germany will do everything it can to include more consumer information in the EU energy label design. Furthermore, the German government champions the creation of an EU online database designed to give consumers an excellent overview of all commercially available devices bearing an EU energy label. Click here for more details.

Further information

Environmentally sound product design (ecodesign) can play a big role in making products more energy-efficient. The EU Ecodesign Directive has been implementing the concept of environmentally sound product design since 2005 and forms the framework for minimum ecodesign product requirements. The European Commission uses the EU Ecodesign Directive as the basis for developing product-specific regulations.

The EU ENERGY STAR® programme enables manufacturers to voluntarily label energy-efficient office equipment. The ENERGY STAR brand, which is owned by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has been used in the EU to label energy-efficient office equipment since 2001. Its use in Europe is based on an agreement made in 2001 between the European Union (EU) and the United States and renewed for two five-year periods: once in 2006 and once in 2013.

The ENERGY STAR logo may be used for office equipment that meets the label's specifications. The specifications are regularly updated every three to four years. The following types of equipment are registered in Europe, for example: computers (notebooks and desktops etc.), electronic displays (computer monitors, monitors with TV tuners and digital picture frames) and imaging equipment (copiers, printers, digital duplicators, fax machines, mailing machines, multifunction devices and scanners).

The central instrument of the EU ENERGY STAR programme is the equipment database in which manufacturers can enter their devices if they meet the specifications. Compliance with ENERGY STAR requirements is monitored by the European Commission. The European Union Energy Star Board (EUESB) assists the European Commission with the administration, supervision and further development of the programme.

In Germany, federal ministries, executive agencies and the German Supreme Audit Institution define energy efficiency requirements that satisfy or surpass ENERGY STAR requirements for public procurement contracts whose value meets or exceeds EU thresholds. The public sector thus sets a good energy efficiency example when procuring office equipment.
More information on the ENERGY STAR programme, including how it relates to public institutions, can be accessed online at, a website created by the European Commission. This website also provides information for companies on how to submit their products to the EU database.

Plans are to integrate the EU Energy Star into the National Top Runner Initiative in future.

Nearly 7 million televisions are sold in Germany each year, more than 99 per cent of its approximately 40 million households have a fridge - and there are a host of other electrical appliances which use electricity for many hours each day. There is enormous potential to save energy here - if as many households as possible use particularly low-consumption appliances. In order to achieve this, the National Top Runner Initiative (NTRI) is addressed equally at consumers, retailers and manufacturers of efficient appliances. This is the only way in which energy consumption can be reduced on a long-term basis.

In the NTRI context, the German government wants to see energy-efficient and high-quality appliances ("top runners") brought to market more quickly, so that market penetration can be accelerated. This can make a crucial contribution to the success of the energy transition, as low-consumption equipment significantly boosts energy efficiency and cuts energy consumption.

Tips for consumers

Consumers will be given targeted information on energy-efficient products and how these products can be used to save energy. This is to make consumers more aware of the issue of energy efficiency and raise demand for energy-efficient products.

Whether it's a fridge or a washing machine: energy-efficient appliances save cash and help to mitigate climate change. The NTRI's consumer campaign makes it clear that it pays off to buy a modern electrical appliance. A broad range of services and a database help people to find the most energy-efficient equipment. And other hints and tips help consumers to reduce the electricity consumption of their household and electrical appliances.

Support for dealers

The NTRI helps dealers to advertise the added value of energy-efficient products and to promote sales of top runner products.

Good advice from specialist retailers helps customers to understand how energy-efficient products deliver more convenience and pay off. The NTRI offers retailers comprehensive information about the EU energy label, the efficiency of appliances and related benefits. The NTRI's network of dealers can be used by retailers to share information and questions about energy efficiency and to broaden their expertise.

Motivation for manufacturers

Manufacturers also need to do their bit. They need to continuously develop and enhance technology and provide fresh ideas that will help improve energy efficiency. This is crucial as even though a product may seem extremely efficient today, it may be considered a big energy guzzler tomorrow.

Demand for energy-efficient and high-quality equipment is growing. The NTRI uses networking events and the sharing of ideas to motivate manufacturers to (further) develop new energy-efficient products and thus to position themselves on the market. The Initiative also provides information about new rules and developments in the field of energy efficiency.

Further to this, a series of meetings on product efficiency offers consumers, dealers, manufacturers and other stakeholders the chance to engage in dialogue and spark off new developments. Both manufacturers and dealers benefit from this.

Support network

Representatives of all the important stakeholder groups have signalled their support for the NTRI objectives. These groups include the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK), the German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers' Association (ZVEI), Bitkom, the German Industry Initiative for Energy Efficiency (DENEFF), the German Retail Trade Association (HDE), the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (VZBV) and Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland (Friends of the Earth Germany). The organisations have issued a joint statement, in which they pledge to drive forward the development and sale of energy-efficient products and the energy-efficient use of these products.

This initiative will help to considerably raise energy efficiency and in turn reduce energy consumption, thus making a key contribution to implementing the energy transition. At the end of the day, energy efficiency really pays off.

Part the National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency

The National Top Runner Initiative was launched on 1 January 2016 and is being continuously enhanced in close dialogue with consumers, retailers and manufacturers.

The National Top Runner Initiative is an important element within the Federal Government's National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency (NAPE). The Action Plan seeks to reduce primary energy consumption in Germany by 20 % by 2020 compared with 2008, and by 50 % by 2050.

Further information (in German) can be found here.

Further information

  • In focus - Energy Efficiency

    National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency (NAPE): Making more out of energy

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Further information

  • Topic - Energy Efficiency

    Germany makes it efficient

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  • In focus - Energy Efficiency

    National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency (NAPE): Making more out of energy

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  • 28/07/2017 - Press release - Energy Efficiency

    Press release: State Secretary Baake: “New energy label with clear A-G scale an important source of information for consumers”

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  • 07/07/2017 - Press release - Energy Efficiency

    Press release: State Secretary Baake: "Make EU energy label more relevant by designing procedures that better reflect consumers' behaviour"

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  • 22/03/2017 - Press release - Energy Efficiency

    Press release: State Secretary Baake welcomes agreement on revised energy efficiency label

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