What are appliance energy ratings and how do they work? Here we explain how to read them and how to use them, as well as the most recent changes.
When shopping for new household appliances you will no doubt want to choose the most energy-efficient one possible.
This will not only mean your carbon emissions will be reduced, but it can seriously impact your energy consumption too.
To help you choose you’ll need to look at the energy rating label, this is displayed both as a label on the front of the appliance, as well as the packaging.
In 2021 new EU regulations came into place which changed how the energy ratings look. Even more confusing is the fact that at present, it only impacts some appliances on the market.
For this reason, you’ll need to understand how the new and the old labels work to make sure you get the most energy-efficient appliance for your money.
Energy Ratings/Labels Quick Summary:
- Energy labels/ratings use a scale of A (most efficient) to G (least efficient).
- Some appliances will use an older scale of A+++ to G, with A+++ being the most efficient.
- However, remember that appliances are categorised by size – this means that two different sized appliances with the same energy rating may actually have different running costs.
- Therefore, it’s recommended that you check the energy labels and look for the best rating for the size you require.
Why have energy ratings in the UK changed?
Due to an increased demand for more environmentally friendly products manufacturers are producing more and more appliances that use less energy.
This meant that the energy ratings system used over the last 25 years were less useful and easy to navigate.
For example, the older labels rate products from A+++ (the highest efficiency) to G (the least energy efficient).
However, because this is an old system nearly all products now fall into the A+ to A+++ categories.
In fact, 55% of washing machines in the EU market ranked A+++, making it hard to distinguish which was really the most energy-efficient product.
As a result, changes were made and a new system created, to make it easier for consumers to navigate and choose the most energy efficient products.
New Energy Rating Labels UK
The new energy ratings will simply range from A (most energy efficient) to G (least energy efficient).
The energy labels will also feature a QR code, so that consumers can quickly and easily use their mobile phone’s to access detailed information about the product in question.
Which products are affected by the new energy ratings label?
So far, household refrigerators and freezers as well as wine storage refrigerators, washing machines, washer-dryers, dishwashers, televisions, electronic displays, and light sources will all have the new energy rating label.
The UK adopted these labels at the same time as participating members of the European Union.
Other products including air conditioners, tumble dryers, vacuum cleaners, and water heaters will have the new labels applied once the UK regulations come into force.
This is suspected at some point in 2023, but is yet to be confirmed in detail.
Until then, if shopping for one of those appliances still using the old labelling system, you will need to be aware of the old rating scale.
In this case, A+++ is the top rating to look for.
How to understand the new energy rating labels when shopping
It is good to understand the new energy ratings when shopping because what would have once been classed as an A is now an F.
That means at the moment, though it seems low, F is a good energy rating for what is currently on the market.
Also bear in mind most appliances are categorized by size.
This means two different size appliances with the same energy rating might use different amounts of energy.
For this reason, it is best to look for the best energy rating within the size you are looking for.
More tips to save energy with your new appliances
- Think about how large your appliance needs to be. A larger fridge, for example, may have a better energy rating but if you live alone, or have a small family do you need such a large fridge/freezer that will use more energy than a smaller one even if it has a better energy rating?
- Go high-tech if you can. More high-tech appliances, such as fridges that can tailor their features to your needs and save energy in the process. Features on other appliances to look out for are washing machines that can weigh the load and adjust how much water is needed accordingly.
How is energy measured on the energy ratings labels?
Different appliances will measure energy use in different ways but all will be measured in either KWh per year, KWh per 1000 hours, or KWh per 100 cycles.
Are appliances less energy efficient if their rating has gone down?
You may now be disappointed when trying to buy the most energy-efficient product on the market and struggling to find anything above an E or an F rating.
Rest assured the efficiency of the appliances has not changed.
For example, most A++ washing machines are now rated in the F category but their energy consumption has not changed, just the way in which some appliances are ranked on the new energy ratings system.
What do energy rating labels look like?
Note: Washer-dryers have two labels. One for the washer and one for the dryer.
See the below the new labels for each type of product category:
Online Energy Rating Labels
When shopping online look for the simplified version of the energy rating label, it will simply show the letter of the rating itself i.e. A.
For Dishwashers: The labels show how many place settings will fit in the machine, how long a wash cycle is, and its noise level.
For Fridge freezers: It shows the capacity in liters and its noise level.
For TVs: The label shows its screen size and how much energy it uses when in HDR mode.
For washing machines and washer dryers: The label shows its capacity in KG’s, the noise level on its final spin, as well as the duration and water consumption on the ECO program.
Look out for Which? Eco Buys
Another label you may notice when shopping is Which’s Eco Buys.
This is a good one to look for when trying to buy the most environmentally friendly product which will in turn help to reduce your household bills, saving you pennies.
This is a particularly good one to look for as Which? tries to test all products in the way the average household uses them.
For example, they have found most household wash at 40 degrees, therefore test washing machines for their efficiency at this temperature.
Whereas the Energy Ratings Label test at 60 degrees.
Comparing both can help you to get a good overall understanding of the product you are looking to buy.
What does the future of Energy Ratings Labels in the UK look like?
The energy ratings labels are in line with the latest EU regulations.
Other products such as tumble dryers and vacuum cleaners are set to display the same energy ratings soon, but post-Brexit the UK will have the freedom to stick to this or change.
Though Northern Ireland will not have the same freedom to stick to the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The EU regulation also aims to improve the longevity of the appliances we buy, making them easier to repair rather than buy new ones.
This includes spare parts to be made available for a minimum amount of years and for those parts to be able to be replaced using commonly used tools.
This is a great step towards reducing the number of appliances sent to landfill every year., as well as being cheaper for consumers.
The UK has committed to matching these EU regulations and even exceeding them.