Despite energy efficiency improvements in the past, a trend of ever-bigger domestic washing machines has emerged, with a knock-on impact on energy use. Models now often come with 8 or 9 kilo load capacities, while in reality consumer needs have not changed significantly.
Coolproducts fears that the formula behind the EU energy label for washing machines may be responsible for this trend. The current formula to calculate the energy efficiency of machines (the so-called Energy Efficiency Index) may make it easier for bigger machines to achieve an A+ or A++ energy class rating.
Recent power consumption estimate for washing machines across Europe are 35 TWh/year, equal to the combined electricity consumption of Belgium and the Czech Republic.
What’s the European Union doing?
Ecodesign and energy labelling requirements for domestic washing machines entered into force in December 2010. Further improvements have been implemented via a staged approach in 2011, 2012, and 2013; these include limits on overall energy and washing efficiency, water consumption as well as the availability of a 'cold wash' cycle at 20°C.
Ecodesign and energy labelling parameters are currently being reviewed. A preparatory study under the lead of the Commission’s Joint Research Center started in 2014 and is expected to be finalised in 2016. It covers both washing machines and washing dryers – which is something Coolproducts has been pushing for in the past.
What does the Coolproducts campaign want?
- The increasing absolute energy consumption of ever-bigger appliances should be dealt with and the efficiency calculation formula (EEI) corrected to curb the trend of larger products more easily achieving top energy classes
- Disincentives for unrealistically long programme durations. These programs artificially inflate the ‘efficiency’ of the machine by spreading out the energy used over time to mask poor performance. Consumers should be informed about programme duration before choosing their appliance, and a time limit should be considered.
- Cold wash cycles should be promoted: the Ecodesign regulation foresaw that washing machines must have a 20°C-programme since the end of 2013. However, in order to realise the savings potential related to low temperatures wash, we would like requirements on the washing performance of these 20°C cotton programmes to be introduced.
- Ecodesign requirements for washer-driers - they are currently exempt.
- We would like consumers to be able to compare the performance of washing machines, washer-driers, and tumble driers with aligned products labels.
- Coolproducts sees the current legislation review as the perfect opportunity to also fight obstacles to repairability, and promote durability of both products.