Improving information on energy efficiency: Digitally expanding the EU energy label

Stromstecker und das EU-Energielabel

Lacking information and ignorance of electrical appliances’ energy consumption are important reasons why consumers purchase inefficient appliances. For that reason, the European Commission launched the EU energy label nearly 20 years ago. It is intended to inform consumers on the energy efficiency and other characteristics of appliances using a system of energy efficiency classes ranging from A to G. Nevertheless, the labelling scheme has some weak spots: The scale is relatively static and inflexible in relation to technological progress on energy efficiency. The amount of information given is small, given the label’s small size. Surveys have repeatedly demonstrated that the label is, for many consumers, difficult to understand.

In order to improve and advance the dissemination of information on energy efficiency, the European Commission is sponsoring the “Digi-Label” research project. The project is intended to develop, verify, test, and assess digital solutions that explain the energy label and provide consumers with additional information on energy efficient products, e.g. on yearly energy costs and monthly consumption levels. Possible solutions include QR codes on the label or touch screens positioned directly next to the product. In this way, the market share accounted for by high-quality and especially energy efficient “top runner” appliances should increase markedly, thus decreasing energy consumption in the European Union. Beyond that, the project aims to provide retailers and consumers with the energy efficiency information they need and to develop recommendations supporting the EU Commission and national legislatures in enhancing the EU energy label.

In the course of the project’s 3-year timeline, an international consortium consisting of adelphi and ten further partners introduced the digital expansions via single pilot projects in Germany, the UK, Italy, and Spain. To ensure the project’s success, the consortium worked closely in collaboration with appliance manufacturers and retailers from various European countries.

adelphi was responsible for the technical and organisational side of the project’s implementation in Germany. For this purpose, adelphi conceptualised and carried out trainings for retail employees and for manufacturers. adelphi also carried out the information campaign developed by the consortium in Germany, collected data on consumer behaviour, and supported in evaluating the results.