From the start of the new year, lower values for energy consumption for a range of everyday electrical appliances will come into effect in the European Union for all products put on the market for the first time. More stringent technical requirements must, for example, be met by coffee machines and IT devices such as modems and routers. In addition to this, the information provided about ovens must be more transparent concerning their energy consumption.
Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks commented: "We need incentives and norms to implement the highest standards for energy and resource efficiency. Energy efficient devices, especially those used often in our everyday lives, are not only good for the environment; they also cut people's electricity bills. The new technical requirements have nothing to do with paternalism, but rather are about making the products sustainable. Sustainable, forward-looking products are an important precondition for environmentally friendly consumption patterns."
As of January 2015, new EU-wide Eco-Design Directive requirements are in effect for energy consumption, stipulating that new devices that are connected to a network or have internet access (including routers, video phones and modems) may in future consume only 6 or 12 watts in standby mode. It must also be possible to disable wireless network connections. These appliances found in almost every household will thus not waste electricity unnecessarily when not in use.
For coffee machines, there are new requirements concerning the maximum warming time, which is unlimited for older devices. In the future, filter coffee machines with insulated jugs must shut off on their own within five minutes after the last brewing process; devices without insulated jugs after a maximum of forty minutes. This avoids wasting energy.
The president of the Federal Environment Agency, Maria Krautzberger, said: Eco-Design Directive requirements are always scrutinised with a critical eye, but the fact is that the EU Directive makes many everyday products safer, reducing their energy consumption and increasing their durability. Many appliances are therefore cheaper and easier to use. The question of whether I have forgotten to turn off my coffee machine has, for example, become irrelevant with the new devices.
Research shows that household appliances that meet the requirements of the Eco-Design Directive can save up to 280 euros per household on average. Roughly 200 euros of the savings come from heating and hot water and 80 euros from electric-powered electrical and electronic equipment. Possible additional initial costs have already been deducted.
From January on, consumers can also get better information concerning the power consumption of ovens and range hoods. These devices must be labelled with new energy efficiency classes (A-G) in the future. It is expected that very soon even more energy-efficient models will be introduced to the market.
On 1 January 2015 new requirements also enter into force for products that tend to be used in industrial settings. These include fans, water pumps and electric motors.
The Eco-Design Directive entered into force in 2005 and, together with the Energy Labelling Directive of 1992 (Revised 2010), is an important environmental policy instrument for increasing the energy efficiency of products. The aim of the Eco-Design Directive is to reduce the environmental impact of products that have a high potential for savings in energy and resource consumption over their entire life cycle. The implementing regulations based on the Eco-Design Directive set out EU-wide binding minimum standards for individual products whose energy consumption is substantial.
The product requirements are developed in Brussels in an extensive consultation process involving the EU Member States, the relevant industry and trade as well as environmental and consumer organisations. In addition to this, the relevant trade associations are consulted at national level. Finally, the Member States vote on the new rules.