This article was originally published in the November/December 1999 issue of Home Energy Magazine. Some formatting inconsistencies may be evident in older archive content.


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Home Energy Magazine Online November/December 1999

in energy

European Appliance Efficiency Revs Up

Figure 1. The majority of cold appliances on display at the Domotechnica conference in Germany fell into the top two efficiency classes.
Many European appliance manufacturers are making highly energy-efficient products and phasing out their low-efficiency models. They are keeping pace with the increasingly green preferences of European consumers and preparing for stricter standards in the European Union (EU), Appliance Efficiency magazine recently reported. The increase in appliance energy efficiency is especially apparent for cold appliances such as refrigerator-freezers, but manufacturers of clothes washers are also coming out with some super-efficient models.

Under the EU's cold appliance minimum efficiency directive, which took effect in September, cold appliances must fall into category A, B, C, or D under the EU's label ratings. (A indicates highest energy efficiency; A-class models must use less than 56% of the energy that an equivalent model used before the labeling program began.) Because categories E, F, and G are being phased out, manufacturers are now offering more energy-efficient models (see Figure 1). A study by SAVE (the European Commission's principal program to support energy efficiency policy and project development in the European Union) showed that efficiencies of cold appliances increased by 10% between 1992 and 1996, and that average energy consumption of these products decreased by almost 44 kWh/year during the same period. The study concluded that the EU energy label clearly affected product offer and purchasing patterns.

Appliance Efficiency surveyed the products on display at Domotechnica and found that current European cold appliances are about 27% more efficient than those offered for sale before the labeling program took effect in 1995. Cold appliance manufacturers AEG, ARDO/ Eurotech, Blomberg, Bosch-Siemens, Electrolux, De Dietrich, Hoover, Liebherr, Miele, Neff, and Siemens all had a large majority of their products falling into the A category. Even smaller manufacturers are coming forward with A-class models, AE said.

Some of the more eye-catching products at the fair were no-frost refrigerator-freezers from Maytag, LG, Daewoo, Liebherr, and Whirlpool that rated B or C; no-frost models have not rated this well in the past. Electronic controls were also touted as an energy efficiency feature that is appearing more often in many appliances. New models of dishwashers and microwave ovens also have higher efficiency ratings. Finally, Appliance Efficiency also reported that the global leader in appliance manufacturing, Electrolux, said in its 1998 annual report that sales of its energy efficient appliances grew threefold in two years.

Such trends are evidence that higher standards do result in better product development by manufacturers--and in more and better options for consumers. With luck, the more energy-efficient models of appliances seen in Europe this spring will soon make their way into American homes.

--Colleen Turrell


Appliance Efficiency, IDEA Secretariat, De Ruyterkade 139, 1011 AC Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Tel:31-20-522-1100; Fax:31-20-627-6840; E-mail:; Web site:



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