Many appliances, such as dishwashers, washing machines and air conditioners, now offer the possibility to communicate within or beyond the home. These ‘Smart’ appliances have features that could help consumers save energy, money and improve system-wide electricity grid efficiency.
For example, if appliances were connected to smart electric meters or home energy management systems, energy-use could be shifted to off-peak hours - even without consumers noticing - a refrigerator could delay its defrost cycle until the middle of the night.
In addition, Smart Appliances could also save energy through smarter occupancy or need-based control strategies (switching off, or placing appliances in low-power modes when they are not needed).
What’s the European Union doing?
The Commission put smart appliances on its Ecodesign Working Plan 2012-2014, estimating that there was a potential for yearly energy savings of 19 Mtoe in 2030, equivalent to close to 40 million tons CO2 emissions per year.
As a consequence, a preparatory study assessing the interest and consequences of having Ecodesign or Energy Labelling measures is currently ongoing and should be finalised by the end of 2016.
Based on this assessment, the Commission will then decide whether to take action.
What does the Coolproducts campaign want?
As the process is at an early stage, our position is still under consideration. We are regularly making comments on the preparatory study to ensure a comprehensive assessment of all possible options (see below).
- In our opinion, the interest of these extra functionalities needs to be fully assessed, also taking into account the extra energy consumption they will trigger: higher standby power and extra consumption linked to telecommunications network and back-end infrastructures.
- Because the topic is broad with many aspects to cover, we want to be sure that the analysis on energy savings features is not neglected. Smart sensors or scalable performance features could contribute to energy savings, e.g. sensor stopping the appliances from running once a set level of performance is achieved (e.g. humidity sensor for tumble driers).