With every passing year, new heat records are beaten across Europe and the use of domestic air-conditioners is growing. Unless new energy saving measures are put in place, their electricity consumption is expected to rise from 40 TWh in 2020 up to 62 TWh in 2030, which is the same as the residential electricity consumption of Italy.

Air-conditioners not only increase the use of electricity, but they also threaten the balance of electricity grids during the periods of their peak demand. To top it off, they contain refrigerant fluids that, if leaked, can contribute substantially to global warming.

A particularly inefficient type of air conditioners are the small portable ones (single ducts). Very often, they need an open window to operate, and tend to be an impulse purchase. It is crucial to curb the mushrooming of such products.

What’s the European Union doing?

Domestic air-conditioners have been covered by an energy label since 2002 (updated in 2011), and by ecodesign requirements since 2012.  The last stage of requirements entered into force in January 2014.

These two regulatory instruments are now largely outdated. In fact, products can be found on the market that outperform the highest A+++ labelling class by over 20%.

A review study carried out in 2018 shows that about 4 TWh/year of electricity could be saved by 2030 through updated measures. Consultations are being held to proceed with the regulatory revision.

What does the Coolproducts campaign want?

 On Ecodesign

  • Stricter energy performance requirements, closer to the level of the best available technologies and comparable to those set in Japan, Australia and the US

  • A very stringent regime for small portable products (single ducts), as they are particularly inefficient

  • A requirement to ensure that all air-conditioners consume zero Watt when they are not in use (i.e. outside the summer season)

  • Penalties for models not using the greenest refrigerants

  • Resource efficiency requirements, for instance establishing a minimum share of recycled material and ensuring products can be easily dismantled and recycled.

On the energy label

  • A substantially rescaled label, back to an A to G scale and where the A and B classes are genuinely challenging

  • A single energy label for all air-conditioning products, to replace the current unfair situation of separate ones for split, double ducts, and single ducts.

  • Resource efficiency information on the label (e.g. repairability score).

  • Stricter market surveillance, as there is evidence that many products are unlabelled.

Coolproducts technical input and position papers:

2020 – A common energy label for air conditioning systems -Coolproducts position

2019 – Air conditioners and comfort fans: Position on the Ecodesign & Energy Labelling proposals

2018 – Comments on air conditioners and comfort fans Tasks 3 – 7

2017 – Comments on air conditioners and comfort fans Tasks 1 – 2

2010 – Contribution to the European Commission revised working document

2009 – Contribution to the European Commission working document

2008 – Technical input to initial tasks of the preparatory study


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With the support of thr European Union (LIFE Programme and European COmmission). This work reflects the author's views and does not commit donors.