Since 1995, the Energy Label has been informing Spanish consumers about the electricity consumption of many electrical appliances in a way that is standardised to the rest of the European Union countries. A simple and visual way to compare the energy consumption of appliances with equivalent functions.
But there have been many changes in these 25 years. The main one is the increasing commitment by manufacturers to search for more efficient and lower consumption appliances. These improvements have also affected energy labelling, with more information being added over the years and, as we will see, new categories, making the system richer, but also somewhat more complex.
Understanding energy labelling today
The main element in energy labelling is a classification system with seven categories, from the letter A to the letter G, with A being the most energy efficient and G being the lowest. In other words, ordered from the least to the most energy consumption.
Therefore, class A appliances are the most efficient, classes B and C have average consumption and from letter D they are the most inefficient in terms of financial expenditure. In addition to this classification by letters, it is complemented by a colour scale. Therefore, A, the most energy efficient, is dark green and G, the worst in terms of consumption, is red, with the ones in between being yellow and orange.
This labelling is mandatory throughout the European Union for refrigerators and freezers, washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, electric ovens and light sources, although there are many more electrical appliances that include it.
A change was added a decade ago. As the greatest improvement effort was focused on the most efficient home appliances, those in class A, three additional categories were created within this group: A+++, the one with the highest efficiency within class A, A++ and A+ home appliances.
Another change is that the texts accompanying this label, which provided additional information, were replaced by pictograms. Therefore, in addition to annual energy consumption, additional relevant information in terms of efficiency is also added to this labelling in a simple and graphic way. This includes other expenses such as water in washing machines and dishwashers or storage capacity in refrigerators and freezers based on standardised test results over 24 hours.
However, for this information to be useful to the consumer it has to be accessible. For this reason, not only is the existence of the label important, it is also mandatory that it be displayed in a visible place on each appliance put on sale, either in a physical establishment or online. This allows the consumer to quickly identify the energy efficiency of the appliance and to compare different models.