Environment Committee votes in favour of energy efficiency

The European Parliament's Environment Committee cast an almost unanimous vote in favour of measures to increase the energy efficiency of electrical products such as computers, hairdryers, washing machines and heaters.

The draft directive covers a vast range of everyday products, except motor vehicles, which are responsible for about 40% of carbon dioxide emissions. However, being a draft directive, the legislation currently lacks any implementing measures detailing precise eco-design rules. These are to be adopted by the Commission.

MEPs passed an important amendment clarifying that the Commission should adopt implementing measures for those products that offer a high potential for cost-effective reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. These include heating and water heating equipment, electric motor systems, lighting in both the domestic and tertiary sectors, domestic appliances, office equipment, consumer electronics and heating, ventilating air-conditioning (HVAC) systems.

For ICT products, off mode consumption should be minimised to the extent technically possible – it was discovered last year that ‘stand-by’ mode in many TV’s, videos, and home stereos still used as much as 80% of the energy consumption of ‘on’ mode.

The Committee also emphasised the need for consumers to be provided with information on the environmental impact of the product throughout its life-cycle, the ecological profile of the product and the benefits of eco-design as well as the role they themselves can play in reducing energy consumption by sustainable use of the product.

However, the committee deleted a requirement for manufacturers to make a life-cycle analysis of products saying it would ease the burden on smaller companies. However, it did adopt an amendment calling for Member States to provide support to ensure that small firms have the necessary eco-design and adaptation resources available.

Pre-empting the committee’s decisions, Europump, the European Association of Pump Manufacturers, launched an energy efficient labelling scheme to showcase only those pumps which are the most environmentally friendly.

Europump give the example of circulator pumps which can use up to 15% of the electricity in an average household. By driving the market towards more energy efficient circulator pumps, households could save up to 10% of their total consumption of electricity.

Paolo Marinovich, President of Europump said: “Energy consumption has become an important issue on the agenda of European consumers. One of the most anonymous, but largest energy consumers in European households, the circulator pump, will now have clear and monitored energy consumption labelling which is visible and understandable for consumers.”

The move to labelling was also welcomed by Frederique Ries MEP, rapporteur for the Eco-design report: “Not only does this significantly reduce energy expenditure in Europe, and help work towards the EU’s commitments to the Kyoto Protocol, but it increases competitive innovation as well. This also has a positive effect on the consumer, as it will bring about real savings for all European households and the environment we live in. Initiatives like this should be recommended and encouraged to make Europe more sustainable.”

By David Hopkins

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