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Tag ‘vacuum cleaners’

EC has not decided to regulate toasters or kettles – and could not decide alone anyway

Friday, May 13th, 2016

EU ecodesign policy is in the news again.

This time the headlines are all about toasters and kettles, rather than vacuum cleaners, on which we tidied up the facts on this site in 2014.

No new regulation without watertight science

No decision has been taken – or is scheduled – to put forward new rules for kettles or toasters.

The European Commission is determined to make sure ecodesign policy is implemented in the least intrusive way possible, while delivering maximum energy savings.

So it will not bring forward proposals that would stop even the most energy-guzzling kettles or toasters from being sold unless backed by watertight scientific analysis that there would be significant benefits and no alternative way of achieving similar or better results.

Read the full entry

Tidying up the facts on EU vacuum cleaner rules

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

Without reiterating all the points we made on our blog a year ago (we sometimes like a punning headline ourselves), here are ten key facts on the new EU rules coming into force on 1 September to make vacuum cleaners work better and waste less energy.

1) There is NO ban on vacuum cleaners that suck powerfully. The ban is on cleaners that use too much energy and/or are not energy efficient. The new rules include requirements for performance in picking up dust, on noise, on the amount of dust escaping from the cleaner (important for asthma sufferers) and on the durability of components.

2) It is perfectly possible to have high-performance vacuum cleaners which are energy efficient. As “Which?” magazine (see below) itself makes clear, some of the models on its best buy list already conform to the new rules.

3) Obviously more energy efficient appliances are good for consumers, who will have reduced energy bills and in this case quieter vacuum cleaners into the bargain. The new labelling system will help them make informed choices.

4) The new rules are based on a tried and tested approach which has already delivered results for all sorts of other appliances and made life easier and cheaper for consumers. A similar labelling system was introduced for fridges and freezers 20 years ago. They now use only one-third of the electricity they did then. Two years after regulations were introduced for television sets, 70% of those on the market were in the top class for energy efficiency.

5) Markets alone won’t make improvements in energy efficiency happen, at least not quickly. Innovation often needs to be given a push. Business wants certainty over the rules and to be sure that competitors will not be able to steal a short-term advantage by continuing to produce and market inefficient appliances.

6) The above might be one reason why most vacuum cleaner manufacturers supported the new rules when the industry was (extensively) consulted. The UK government also supported the rules- Member States could have blocked them had they wished

7) Lower household energy use also means lower emissions, helps tackle climate change and is a contribution to Europe being less dependent on energy imported from Russia and the Middle East.

8) As we pointed out last year, studies have shown that more efficient vacuum cleaners would save 19 terawatt hours (TWh) of energy annually in the EU by 2020. As a comparison, that amount of energy would keep the London Underground running for up to twenty years.

9) The system for vacuum cleaners will not be “self-regulating” as “Which?” claimed and other media repeated: national authorities will check that labels correspond to reality.

10) Given that the EU labelling system is not rating overall performance but only one aspect of it – energy efficiency – it is not surprising that EU ratings do not give the same results as “Which?’s” more general ones.


Background

New EU rules on vacuum cleaners coming into force on 1 September will mean that “consumers will get better vacuum cleaners” and less energy will be wasted.

That is how Commission energy spokesperson Marlene Holzner succinctly put it.

But certain UK newspapers like little more than stories which allow them to attack the EU and the “green lobby” while also providing good punning opportunities for headlines.

Small wonder then that they have leapt on the chance to recycle stories published when the rules were agreed and to lambast “Brussels” again.

“Which?” consumer magazine flagged up some concerns, as it is of course entitled to do.

The Daily Telegraph picked this up first and wrote a balanced piece with extensive quotes from Ms Holzner.

Then a frenzy ensued.

“EU suckers…EU rules that really suck” screamed anew various recycled headlines.

An editorial in the Sun suggested that readers should buy a new energy inefficient vacuum cleaner, perhaps costing several hundred pounds, before they are banned.

The Daily Mirror said: “a barmy EU ban on powerful vacuum cleaners could lead to panic buying, watchdogs warned”. If it does – hard perhaps to imagine mobs of desperate buyers fighting over the last few energy guzzling vacuum cleaners in the shop – that will be because of hysterical media reports.

The Mirror followed up with the full gamut of clichés – “Brussels busybodies…green dictat (sic), etc”.

Media reporting on vacuum cleaners – don’t get sucked in!

Friday, June 7th, 2013

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)
Noise levels

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.

EC in the UK

Check the EC Representation in the UK website

Please note that all statements in all entries were correct on the date of publication given. However, older archived posts are not systematically updated in the light of later developments, for example changes to EU law.

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