The Swedish EU Presidency struck a deal on 17 November with the European Parliament on a new energy label for household appliances which will add more classes to the closed A-G format.
After months of wrangling over the format, EU lawmakers settled on an energy label to which additional 'A' classes can be added on top of the traditional best-performing 'A' category. The highest possible class will now be A+++.
Updating the scale became necessary because a large number of products have ended up in the highest energy-efficiency class after years of technological development. The Parliament fought to retain the closed 'A to G' scale, which has become familiar to European consumers, but industry and some member states were adamant that their efficiency rating should not be downgraded.
MEPs managed to limit the additional 'A' classes to three, but the solution was nevertheless criticised by environmentalists and consumer groups as confusing for consumers. The compromise deal stipulates that the new scale will be revised once "a significant number of products" have reached the top two classes.
The different classes will marked with a colour code ranging from dark green for most efficient products to red for most wasteful ones. This is designed to help consumers navigate their way towards the most efficient products.
Extending to energy-related products
The agreement also extends energy labelling from household goods to all energy-related products, like windows and outer doors that do not directly use energy but help to save it. Energy-consuming commercial and industrial products like cold storage rooms or vending machines will also come with an energy label in future.
Label to be included in adverts
The agreement requires advertisement promoting the price or energy efficiency of white goods to indicate the product's energy class. In addition, all manuals, brochures and other technical promotion will have to indicate the product's efficiency class or energy consumption to allow consumers to make energy-saving purchases.
Member states were also urged to consider energy-efficient products in public procurement, but the new directive will not include any binding requirements.
EU ministers must formally approve the compromise agreement before the Parliament can sign it off at the beginning of next year.