28.2 The future of European Energy Label

Eivind St , National Instotite for Consumer Research, Norway, 0405 Oslo, Norway
Full Papers
  • FuturofEnergyLabel.pdf (229.1 kB)
  • 1.                  Introduction: The success story of EU Energy Label

    In the ongoing EU project BARENERGY we are focusing on the strength and relevance of various barriers for change in consumer energy behaviour and how can these barriers may be overcome by technical innovations, changes in the supply from energy producers and political measures by political authorities on local, national and European level. Lack of knowledge and information among consumers have been identified as one of the main barriers for change in energy consumption in households (Throne-Holst, Strandbakken and St, 2008; Lthi et.al, 2009). We will return to the BARENERGY project below. We will here only emphasise that labels are crucial tools for energy efficient purchase behaviour, and the performance of the EU Energy Label is one of the BARENERGY topics. We will discuss the potential for change in relationship to the situations of opportunities (Svane, 2002). The revision of the EU energy label represents an excellent window of opportunity for all involved stakeholders.


    The EU Energy Label has been a definitive success. The label is based upon the framework directive 92/75/CE and covers today most large white household appliances such as freezers and refrigerators; stoves and microwave ovens; washing machines, clothes dryer and dishwashers. The label is mandatory both for producers and retailers. It has to be classified by the producers and the label must be visible in shops. The products is classified from an A to G scale where A is the most energy effective.

    During the last decade we have witnessed a development from G to A in most European markets, and this has been the case for all product categories. The label is well-known and also trusted among European consumers (Ipsos MORI, 2008). In the period from 1995 to 2008 technical innovations have reduced the electric consumption in Europe with 12% (37 TWh) (CECED, 2008).

    At the same time we have seen various problematic aspects with the performance of the label in the market:

    • The label is to a large degree not found on the products in shops (ANEC, 2007)

    • The testing of classification is complicated and expensive. Many countries don't regularly carry out tests

    • In most countries there is no reaction and enforcement against this insufficient market performance

    • Nearly all products have reached the A classification level. For refrigerators we have seen A+ and even A++ labels.

    All these factors have lead to a necessary revision of the EU energy labelling scheme, where especially the last factor above have been decisive for the revision process. When there is no difference between the classifications of products, the label doesn't function as an instrument for competition.

    2.                  Objectives of the paper: dimensions in the recent revision of the Energy label

    The EU energy label has been hit by it own success, and need a revision. There is a common understanding among all relevant stakeholders that this is necessary. There is also an agreement that the new label has to be more dynamic, in order to include later technical innovations, - without starting a new bureaucratic revision process. However, there is not an agreement about how this may be included in the scheme.

    The EU Commission has for some years been working with a revision, and will very soon reach to a conclusion. It has taken time to find a political and scientific compromise among member's states and all involved stakeholders, and this may be the reasons if the current deadline of March 2008 will not be reached. However, in this open process we have been able to identify various solutions and dimensions and this brings us to the objective of this paper:

            What are the main dimensions and positions in the revision of the EU energy label, based upon the 92/75/EU directive?

            May these positions contribute to develop an energy label with high level of knowledge and trust among consumers, or is it possible that the market performance of the EU energy label may be weakened?

    3.                  The framework for our analysis: The BARENERGY Project

    The framework for our analysis is the BARENERGY project, funded by the ENERGY part of the 7FP. Based upon state of the art we have identified the following barriers for change in energy consumption among households and consumers: 1)Physical and structural barriers, 2)Political barriers, 3)Cultural-normative or social barriers, 4)Economic barriers, 5)Knowledge based barriers and 6)Individual-psychological barriers:

    In our analysis we will combine an individual and institutional approach. This means that individual and household energy behaviour and changes in this behaviour can only be understood by integrating individual values, attitudes, norms and knowledge among individuals with studies of the context in which this behaviour takes place. That is why we have chosen countries with a substantial variation as far as energy providers are concerned.

    This paper deals mainly with the relationship between the political barrier the EU energy label and the knowledge based barrier: consumers' knowledge, trust and use of the label as information tool for purchase behaviour. At this stage in the project our analysis will be based upon a stakeholder approach. Thus, it is the perception of individual barriers among selected stakeholders - political authorities, businesses, NGOs, science - that constitute the data for this specific paper:

            Interviews with relevant stakeholders along the value chain of household appliances, at both national and European level

            Documents and written report from the EU Commission, consumer organisations and business associations[2]



    [1] If the abstract is accepted, others partners in the BARENERGY project will be invited to be co-authors

    [2] To some degree these document also presents data from consumer studies, but the BARENERGY project will address consumer values, attitudes and practises in a later stage of the project.