But, according to ECOS, delays in implementation that have seen just 11 of the 41 named products groups covered by the directive approved so far – with two more pending – are jeapordising the energy efficiency harvest.
The ECOS numbers were crunched by isolating the existing and potential energy end-use savings associated with each product group in the directive, measured against a baseline to 2020, as detailed in the European Commission's preparatory studies and impact assessments.
These were then compared with the aggregated total of the 5.5 TWh (TeraWatts per hour) of electricity produced each year by an average-sized 780 MW nuclear reactor, such as those used in Fukushima.
ECOS found that the implementation of the directive so far had saved around 340 TWh of end-use energy a year, the equivalent output of 62 such reactors.
But the product groups that remain to be approved would save another 540 TWh of end-use energy, the same output as 98 ordinary reactors, or 49 of the more powerful European Pressurised Reactors (EPRs)
"This is how many new nuclear plants we would not need to build, thanks to the energy savings these measures could achieve," said Edouard Toulouse, the ECOS officer who compiled the statistics.
Monica Frassoni, president of the EU Alliance to Save Energy (EUASE), described the figures as "staggering" and blamed poor implementation and monitoring of the directive for the failure to make the savings so far.
"There is a political barrier," she said, "and it is exactly the same one that we find when the Commission and member states don't want to fix binding targets for energy efficiency".
A Commission spokesperson told EurActiv that the Eco-design Directive was "a policy success story" but admitted that "there is still a lot of work to do in order to fully use [its] potential".
"The Commission is aware of this and therefore the implementation of this directive remains one of its top priorities in the energy efficiency field."
The EU's Framework Directive on Energy-Using Products was established to set mandatory environmental requirements for 41 energy-using and related products – such as boilers, fridges and washing machines – which are responsible for around 40% of all EU greenhouse gas emissions.
But in practice, only one product was approved in 2008, seven in 2009, and three in 2010.
"We saw a slowdown of the pace at which measures were implemented," Toulouse said.
"There has clearly not been enough commitment to them coming from a high level within the EU institutions."
As well as a lack of political leadership, Toulouse singled out sustained lobbying from industrial associations and a tortuously cumbersome approvals process as reasons for the delays afflicting the directive.
But a more surprising factor he pointed to was scaremongering by hostile right wing press conglomerates in countries such as the UK.
Before regulations for cheaper energy-saving light bulbs were introduced in 2009, the Daily Mail alarmingly talked about "the end of light as we know it".
"Revolt!" the paper's headline read. "Robbed of their right to buy traditional light bulbs, millions are clearing shelves of last supplies."
Similarly, in 2010, the Daily Telegraph informed its readers that "the cleanliness of Britain's homes is being threatened by European bureaucrats who want to reduce the power of vacuum cleaners in a bid to cut energy use".
"The negative press was a surprise," Toulouse commented, "and it clearly frightened the [European] Commission, so that now they take more and more caution with each product group."
A Commission spokesperson decined to comment on such stories but told EurActiv that manufacturers were "generally supportive" of eco-design and were consulted "on an equal basis to other stakeholders".