• Consumers are being misled by 20 per cent of energy-using products that claim to be more energy efficient than they actually are
• Energy Saving Trust to mystery shop and test manufacturers' products as part of mission to eliminate misleading energy claims
One in five energy-using products across Europe do not match their energy efficiency claims, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
This follows findings from European Commission-funded research which revealed that up to 20 per cent are non-compliant with energy efficiency standards, such as energy labelling.
According to estimates, this is leading to around ten per cent of the potential energy savings stated being lost by millions of products across Europe, including ovens, fridges, washing machines, dishwashers, televisions and computers.
Now, the Energy Saving Trust will be independently purchasing and testing energy-using products across Europe to verify the energy saving claims made by manufacturers. This is part of a product surveillance programme, known as MarketWatch, to make sure consumers are getting the best deal through fully compliant energy-using products that match their energy saving claims in real-life situations.
The three year programme will carry out over 300 inspections in shops and 300 in online stores, checking a total of 25,000 products to see if they are properly labelled. To verify the true energy efficiency of products, 100 partial lab tests will be carried out, followed by 20 independent lab tests.
Philip Sellwood, chief executive at the Energy Saving Trust, says:
"Consumers are wising up to the monetary savings of using the best and most efficient products – they're trying to do the right thing but need to be rewarded properly through the savings stated being realised.
"That's why we aim to be the eyes and ears for UK consumers to ensure energy efficiency claims by product manufacturers are true and will save them money on their energy bills. We need to address the fact that consumers across Europe are not maximising the energy saving benefits stated by millions of products.
"There is an obvious need to recoup any potential savings through establishing more rigorous market surveillance and standards across energy efficient products and labelling. The European Commission has recognised that this energy wastage is a problem and is keen to ensure a compelling climate of compliance across all aspects of energy efficiency.
"From our perspective, it's clear that any labelling needs to be accurate, easy for the consumer to understand and displayed clearly in retailers across Europe. What we will be doing through our work is establishing how improved market surveillance, energy efficiency labelling and product standards can have the most impact and ultimately lead to greater savings for the UK consumer.
"Through our 13 years' experience of product labelling, endorsement and testing, we intend to lead the UK's effort in helping consumers choose the best products that will save them the most money in the long-term."
Energy Saving Trust figures indicate that the UK alone could save nearly £1.3 billion a year on electricity bills by switching to more energy efficient products. This includes fridges, freezers, tumble dryers, washing machines and dishwashers***.
Douglas Herbison, chief executive at the Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Appliances (AMDEA) says:
"AMDEA supports having regulations consistently reinforced by the appropriate product standards across the EU. This means all domestic appliances sold in the EU member states have to meet the same technical requirements as other products within the same product category. The market surveillance and enforcement for energy labelling already happening across Europe is vital in ensuring that products' energy efficiency claims conform to these requirements."
The MarketWatch programme is supported by 15 other partners across eleven EU Member States. The European Commission has pledged to support research into the areas of energy efficiency products and labelling.
Other projects co-financed by the European Commission involve the Energy Saving Trust testing 200 televisions and testing and promoting good quality and energy efficient LEDs and CFLs.
For more information about the MarketWatch programme visit www.market-watch.org.uk
Homeowners wanting more information on saving energy at home can visit www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/