Energy-saving oven law gets warm welcome from celebrity chefs and WI

The Women's Institute and Michelin-starred chef Tom Aikens have thrown their support behind new EU rules to cut energy waste from ovens and hobs, saying they will cut emissions and bills.

Under the new regulation which comes into force on Friday, low quality domestic ovens, hobs and range hoods will be phased out by 2019 in changes that the European commission says will be “invisible,” but which the New Economics Foundation estimates will save the British public £1.1bn in energy bills over the next 15 years.

By 2030, those savings from gas and electric appliances would increase to an average £174m per year, with an annual reduction in carbon emissions equal to more than a million barrels of oil being burned.

“Wasting energy is as bad as wasting food,” said Aikens, an award-winning regular on TV cooking shows like Iron Chef UK. “Using it efficiently in your kitchen is a double win, cutting your bills and carbon emissions. Energy isn’t infinite so we shouldn’t abuse it.”

According to a new ComRes survey, 87% of British people support regulations to increase the energy efficiency of household appliances, such as ovens and fridges.

Nearly two-thirds of people supported energy efficient household appliances as a way of lowering energy bills and wastage, with 59% saying they would be happy to pay a little more for an energy efficient appliance.

“The level of support for regulations that cut energy waste is really remarkable,” said Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit which co-commissioned the poll of 2,000 people. “They’re even more popular than renewable energy, which we know is supported by around 80% of Britons.”

“Whether you’re turning your hand to a Victoria sponge or a Sunday roast it’s reassuring to know that ovens and hobs are becoming more energy efficient, insulating you better from volatile energy prices while also cutting emissions,” added Marylyn Haines Evans, the chair of the National Federation of Women’s Institute, the other poll sponsor.

“Knowing what we do about the risks that climate change presents to the UK, it’s clear that better designed appliances are a boon both for householders now and for the world that our children will inhabit,” she said.

Despite economic growth, EU efficiency standards for appliances such as fridges and lightbulbs have meant that the UK is using 10% less energy than five years ago. But these regulations have been forced through in the teeth of steely opposition from Eurosceptics.

The Daily Mail and Daily Express have focused on the new oven rules’ perceived potential to slow oven start-up times, and thus threaten traditional Sunday roasts and old-fashioned recipes.

If true, this would put the legislation in breach of the ecodesign directive’s first imperative that “there shall be no significant negative impacts on the functionality of the product, from the perspective of the user”.

The new rules do mandate minimum insulation standards for ovens, improved controls and the replacing of legacy solid plate electric hobs, with ceramic plate hobs. But the commission’s impact assessment into the rules suggests that tabloid fears of Brussels diktats ruining roast lunches may have been over-cooked.

“Ovens are very much enshrined in the cultural heritage of most Europeans,” the paper says. “Measures that would ban or seriously restrict current cooking technologies, even if technically superior alternatives were available, are simply not possible.”

“Power does not equal performance and too often consumers end up buying products that appear cheap, but cost a fortune to run,” added Stamatis Sivitos of the Coolproducts Campaign. “These rules mean that design standards will go up, and low quality Asian imports that cannot stand the heat will have to leave the kitchen.”

Arthur Nelsen

This article first appeared in the Guardian

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