New EU Energy Labels Grade on a Stricter Curve

The European Union’s new Ecodesign and Energy Labelling Regulations, which went into force on March 1, have been redesigned to encourage the manufacturing of new products that will meet the higher energy standards.

It is doing this by updating its classification scheme to rank the efficiency of products on product labels, including HVAC&R products. 

This information was presented at a webinar hosted by Eurovent on new Ecodesign and Energy Labelling requirements for refrigerating appliances.

Whereas refrigerators may have previously been ranked A+++, the EU is using only the letters A to G to rank the efficiency of products, where A is most efficient. Moreover, the A class will be empty for 2021, with products that may have previously been in the A class, having an A+ or more label, now shifted to a lower class level.

According to the EU Commission, two-thirds of refrigerators sold in 2006 were in the A class. By 2017 90% of refrigerators sold were classified as A+, A++ or A+++.

A product’s Energy Efficiency Index (EEI) determines how it get classified on energy labels, with a minimum EEI of 80 allowed for labeled products. (Products placed on the market before March 1 with an EEI lower than 80 can still be sold.) EEI is calculated as annual energy consumption (AE) over standard annual energy consumption (SAE).

“Ecodesign measures push the market away form the worst performing products,” said Francesco Mastrapasqua, Institutional Affairs Manager at Italian OEM Epta, and president of the Italian industry association Assocold. “Energy labelling measures pull the market towards better performing products by informing consumers, and helps the client make informed decisions.”

Update began in 2005

The process to update these regulations started in 2005, with the publication of the Ecodesign [Regulation (EU) 2019/2018] and Energy Labelling [Regulation (EU) 2019/2024]. Regulations were published in May 2019, giving manufacturers until March of 2021 to prepare.

The new label also includes a QR code, which customers can scan to go directly to the product page in the EU-wide database EPREL (European Product Registry for Energy Labelling). Notably still missing from the label is the refrigerant type used in the equipment.

The regulations cover a wide range of products, including residential fridges and air conditioners.  In commercial refrigeration it covers supermarket remote cabinets supermarket plug-in cabinets, commercial beverage coolers, refrigerated vending machines, ice cream freezers, and gelato-scooping cabinets.

There are some refrigeration products not covered by the Ecodesign and Energy Labelling Regulations, including certain refrigerating appliances with a direct sales function.

As part of their effort to educate the public, the European Commission (EC) released a document with an overview of the changes and their possible impacts.

The EC has also published a study which explains the possible impacts from ecodesign and energy labelling measures on energy consumption, socioeconomic status (jobs), industrial competitiveness (revenues) and technology development, over the period 1990-2050