EU must act quickly to improve domestic appliance efficiency

Researchers based in the UK, Portugal and the Netherlands are urging the EU to commit to and fast track a framework directive on energy efficiency for household appliances. The researchers believe such legislation would save 6.5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions by 2020.

“There has been a little bit of talk about a directive recently, but there does tend to be an underestimation of what action on household emissions is possible,” Tina Fawcett, of Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute (EIC) and one of the authors of the study, told edie.

EIC – working with Ecofys in the Netherlands and ISR in Portugal – has published Lower Carbon Futures for European Households in order to spell out the carbon savings that would result from increased efficiency for lights, appliances and water heating.

The researchers conclude that if the EU moves quickly to set improved energy efficiency standards for appliances and to encourage fuel switching (from electricity and liquid petroleum gas to natural gas) the impacts on Europe’s overall CO2 emissions would be important. “As there is likely to be a 14% gap between the growth in emissions and the EU Kyoto commitment, these savings would make an important contribution,” says the report.

Delays in setting EU-wide policy will only make meeting Kyoto targets more difficult, says the report, using UK figures as an example: “In 1997, calculations for electrical lights and appliances in the UK established a potential of 2.7 million tonnes of CO2 by 2010 given immediate action. Two years have passed in which firm EU action has not been taken and the savings available from this sector are now only two million tonnes of CO2 by 2010.”

Fawcett argues that minimum standards for energy efficiency in appliances is a simple policy option that is guaranteed to have a positive impact on emissions without increasing the cost of appliances. The technology is available, she says, and as long as industry is given enough notice it can incorporate improved efficiency targets into production without raising the price of products.

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