Lights out for inefficient bulbs under new EU standards

The new rules in the European Union will save seven million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, according to the EU executive [Pexels / Pixabay]

Certain fluorescent and halogen light bulbs are being banned as of Wednesday (1 September) as new ecodesign and labelling rules come into force across the European Union.

The ecodesign regulation and the energy labelling regulation came into force on Wednesday, after they were adopted in 2019.

Together, they bring major changes for producers and consumers that could cut the environmental impact of keeping Europe’s lights on.

The new rules will drive changes that will save seven million tonnes of CO2 equivalent every year by 2030, adding to emissions savings of 12 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year brought in by previous regulations, according to the European Commission.

The changes include new energy efficiency requirements that will see some fluorescent and halogen lamps banned immediately and more banned in two years’ time. The move follows a ban on incandescent light bulbs that was imposed over a decade ago across the EU.

New requirements have also been introduced to determine the removability and replaceability of light sources and the durability of LEDs and OLEDs.

In addition, light bulbs will now need to use a simpler scale to display their energy efficiency. This means ditching the A+, A++ A+++ classes and moving to an A-G system within 18 months for physical retailers and 14 working days for online shops.

“Updating the labels will make it easier for consumers to see what are the ‘best in class’ products, which in turn will help them to save energy and money on their bills. Using more energy efficient lighting will continue to reduce the EU greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to becoming climate-neutral by 2050,” said EU energy commissioner Kadri Simson.

The new scale is designed so that few products currently on the market will achieve the “A” and “B” class, leaving space for more efficient goods to be developed.

Progress on energy efficiency has been moving at light speed in the industry. LED modules – the most energy efficient lighting technology for almost all applications – saw a rapid uptake in the last couple of decades, from 0% of light bulbs sold in 2008 to 22% in 2015, according to the European Commission.

The highest energy efficiency products available now are likely to only achieve “C” or “D”, according to the European Commission, with the Belgian consumer group, Test Achats, saying that lamps previously marked as “A++” will be downgraded to a “D” class.

The revised label is a great improvement, giving customers clearer information on how energy efficient products are, stated the European Consumer Organisation.

“At a time when more environmentally friendly consumption is growing on many minds, this is excellent news. We’re looking forward to 2025, when the old energy label will be history,” said Monique Goyens, director general of BEUC.

Fridges, freezers, washing machines and dishwashers also shifted to the A-G scale earlier this year. Most products will change to the new system by 2023, while heaters and boilers will not make the leap until 2025.

“It is a loss to consumers and the environment that not all electrical appliances will carry this simpler and clearer label until 2025. We want to help consumers buy the most energy-efficient products possible and the easy message ‘Buy A’ allows us to do that again,” said Stephen Russell secretary-general at the European consumer voice in standardisation.

New energy labels: the energy transition starts at home

As of 1 March, consumers will find new, revamped labels on dishwashers, washing machines, fridges and televisions. But to reach our climate ambitions, the European Commission must introduce A-G dedicated energy labels for all products responsible for high energy consumption, write Mélissa Zill and Jean-Pierre Schweitzer.

[Edited by Frédéric Simon]

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