Over the past week there have been various reports about how EU energy saving regulations might affect future vacuum cleaners. We would like to put a few issues straight.
Less power does not mean less performance. The aim is to give consumers a better deal all round with vacuum cleaners that suck up more dirt, use less electricity, help keep energy bills down and are better for the environment. Inefficiently designed models will be phased out.
The new EU regulation focuses on dust pick-up efficiency as well as power. A vacuum cleaner that picks up more dust per passage over the floor only needs to be used for shorter periods and thus uses less energy.
Studies have shown that the introduction of these efficient vacuum cleaners would save 19 terawatt hours (TWh) of energy annually in the EU by 2020. As a comparison, this annual saving alone would keep the London Underground running for up to twenty years.
From September 2014 the maximum allowed input power will be 1600 Watt; from September 2017 it is 900 W. (current average on the market is about 1800 W)
Rather than focus on the energy savings and consumer benefits, the Daily Express said the regulation would create a potential health risk “because lower powered vacuum cleaners will not pick up allergy-provoking dust”. This is simply not the case. The regulation seeks to reduce dust emissions and clearly sets minimum requirements for the ability of a vacuum cleaner to pick up dust.
This will all be reflected in a new labelling system, so consumers can be clearly informed as to what they are buying.
The label will also outline the following important information:
Energy efficiency (A-G rating similar to those on washing machines and fridges)
Performance (ability to pick up dust)
Dust re-emission in the exhaust air (particularly important for dust related allergies)
So the regulation is not so much about banning high powered vacuum cleaners as encouraging high performance, energy efficient, dust busting technology.
The regulation on eco-design requirements is an update to take into account technological advances and derived from existing EU law agreed in 2009 by the European Parliament and by Member States.
This update is not simply based on a decision handed down by the European C0mmission – Member States can block the Commission’s proposal either through a vote of their experts or later at political level.
The procedure is as follows. Such changes to the eco-design rules require first a qualified majority (in other words a large majority of votes weighted by size of Member State) of experts in a committee of Member States. Either the European Parliament or the Member States in the Council then have several months to vote to block the procedure. That period has now elapsed, so the Commission will now formally adopt the new rules. Producers will have ample time to adapt to the new rules – see above.