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Missing energy consumption information on more than 60 per cent of products sold by European online retailers

Thursday, 24 July, 2014

The EU funded product surveillance programme known as MarketWatch, which is managed by the Energy Saving Trust, found that nearly two thirds of products (62 per cent) in the online stores and retailers that were checked had information missing about its energy consumption and performance on the energy label. Thirty-eight per cent of products in online shops and retailers were correctly labelled with the full and relevant energy performance information.

In UK online stores and retailers that were checked, 90 per cent of products had energy information missing or displayed in the wrong format.

These figures were in a stark contrast to traditional shops and retailers, with over three quarters (77 per cent) of products across Europe being correctly labelled. The shops checked in the UK had even higher figures, with 80 per cent of products correctly labelled in traditional shops and retailers.

Of encouragement for UK online stores and retailers was that all of the products that were checked had some form of information provided about their energy performance.

These findings come following 225 shop visits (114 traditional shops and retailers and 111 online stores and retailers) on 68,000 different energy-using products across Europe as part of MarketWatch. In the UK over 700 products were assessed across eight online stores and retailers.

Energy Saving Trust has vowed to work with online shops and retailers to address this “energy information gap” and ensure that the full and correct information is provided on products. This is timely with the introduction of the new online Energy Labelling Regulation – taking affect from 1st January 2015 – which will ensure all new products placed on the market supply the actual energy label online.

Tom Lock, Product Certification Manager at the Energy Saving Trust, says:

“With rising energy bills, an increasing number of consumers are starting to consider the energy performance of products to ensure lower energy bills through products that perform more efficiently in the home.

“It’s encouraging that nearly all retailers are now displaying some form of information about the energy performance of products. However, the biggest problem is missing information on the label or information in the wrong format which means consumers are either confused or not fully-informed before they make a purchasing decision. This was a particularly big problem for online retailers with nearly two-thirds of products displayed in the shops we checked not containing the half a dozen vital pieces of information about energy performance.

Lock continues: “Between 80 and 90 per cent of consumers say that the internet has some influence on their purchasing decisions [1], so we see this online ‘energy information gap’ as a big problem and will be using these results to work with online retailers and stores to ensure they display the full correct information on their products.

“At the same time, we will look at how this information about energy performance can be communicated to consumers online. This means presenting the energy performance of products in a more interactive, relevant, engaging and meaningful way to an increasingly tech-savvy audience.”

Other findings from the shop visits included the following:

62 per cent of fridges and TVs and 57 per cent of dishwashers were correctly labelled and were the best performers for the on and offline shops that were checked.
18 per cent of air conditioners, 29 per cent of electric ovens and 30 per cent of washer driers were correctly labelled and were the worst performers for the on and offline shops that were checked.
The three year MarketWatch programme will now carry out 100 partial laboratory tests on energy-using products followed by 20 full laboratory tests to verify their energy saving claims and make sure any proposed energy savings are reflected in real-life situations.

MarketWatch 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.

To make energy labels on products more accurate and clearer for consumers to understand the Energy Saving Trust, as part of the Energy Agencies Network (a network of Energy Agencies across Europe) has called for a change in the energy ratings system on the energy label. A simple A to G rating is being proposed to phase out the current A+, A++ and A+++ energy classes.

In addition the Energy Saving Trust is recommending the energy label to be a far greater representation of absolute energy consumption to indicate how much energy a product actually consumes throughout its lifetime.

The vital pieces of information about energy performance that need to be displayed on products vary between the different types of appliances. For example, there are seven pieces of information for washing machines which include:

1. Rated capacity in kg of cotton

2. Energy efficiency class

3. Weighted annual energy consumption

4. Weighted annual water consumption

5. Spin drying efficiency class

6. Maximum spin speed

7. Acoustical noise emissions

Retailers and consumers seeking advice and guidance about energy labelling can visit our website.

For more information about the MarketWatch programme visit and follow us @MarketWatch_UK