Fridges are the most commonly owned appliance in the European Union and the most energy hungry electric appliance in our homes. EU standards and an energy label have done a lot to improve efficiency, but they are now stale and no match for a trend towards ever-larger and more powerful machines, a trend threatening to wipe out all efficiency gains.
Official data estimates annual European electricity consumption from these products of 87 terawatt-hours in 2014, corresponding to 37 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, comparable to the emissions produced from 20 million cars.
Refrigerators, freezers and combined fridge-freezers have been getting bigger and more sophisticated in recent years. Bigger models mean greater energy consumption, and with an average growth in volume of 32% over the last decade, this trend is threatening to eliminate all the efficiency gains.
Things are not helped by so-called 'correction factors' in the formula behind the energy label. These mask the true energy consumption of some features, making it impossible for shoppers to accurately compare models.
What’s the European Union doing?
Twenty years of Ecodesign and energy labelling have improved them tremendously and fridges are now 60% more efficient than they were in 1992, when EU regulators first agreed on a label. In fact, they were the first product to ever boast the energy label. That label is now tired though, with the least efficient model sporting an A+ grade. Confusing, right?
A sorely-needed revision of these regulations was initiated in 2015. In particular, the currently applicable correction factors will be reassessed as well as the possibility of setting resource efficiency requirements (material recovery, durability etc.). An assessment of possible Ecodesign requirements for wine storage appliances will also be undertaken.
What does the Coolproducts campaign want?
- A curb to the trend of ever-larger appliances - cap energy consumption and make it harder for products to gain the highest rank on the energy label.
- Make the energy consumption calculation more honest and accurate to prevent consumers being exposed to hidden energy demand and unexpectedly high energy bills by removing correction factors.
- A clearer energy label, with fewer models holding the top classes. The label is now saturated at the high end, preventing fair comparison and stifling innovation.
Coolproducts' technical inputs and position papers are available below
2016 – Early input on policy scenarios on household refrigeration