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The 101 of the MarketWatch lab test programme

Tom Lock, Certification Manager at the Energy Saving Trust, discusses the next stage of the MarketWatch programme and reveals the products that will be tested.

We recently announced the results of our shopper visits across Europe as part of the MarketWatch programme, revealing that online retailers are lagging behind traditional shops with energy consumption information missing or in the wrong format. The next step is testing these products to reveal their true energy efficiency performance and whether they’re as energy efficient as the energy label suggests.

A few years ago the European Commission recognised the need for an extensive market surveillance of energy-using products after research showed that one in five products across Europe were presenting misleading energy saving claims. Over the next year or so, MarketWatch will test products on two levels: a screening of ten product groups for signs that products do or don’t meet energy efficiency legislation, such as Energy Labelling and Ecodesign directive rules, and in-depth lab tests. From September, the screening of 100 products will begin.

This will cover tumble dryers, dishwashers, washing machines, televisions, vacuum cleaners, domestic lighting, set top boxes, electric ovens, fridges and the horizontal standby off-mode. Screening tests have been devised by MarketWatch then peer-reviewed by outside experts to ensure they are as robust as possible. Following the screen testing, 20 products will be selected for the full laboratory testing.

These products have not yet been confirmed but we’re keen to make sure that they resonate with the consumer and are considered to be ‘iconic’ products and appliances for the home. We will be using a number of Europe’s finest specialist laboratories for this stage, with these labs being selected based on suitability for the different product groups. During this phase of the project, EST will be liaising with government agencies to ensure we complement their work rather than repeat it. We’ll also be encouraging them to make use of our results.

We will engage with firms shown to be selling products that do not meet their energy label claims, and we reserve the right to name them to act as a deterrent for others, which is something national authorities themselves do. Fortunately, we can count on the backing of industry groups like CECED, whose head earlier this year called for better market surveillance.

This will ensure a more level playing field to benefit the majority of firms complying with the law. The Energy Saving Trust is not in the business of naming and shaming. But it is important to ensure that consumers continue to get the best deal on energy using products. We want to raise awareness of the issue of non-compliance for energy using products in order to bring about change.      

Tom Lock is Certification Manager at the Energy Saving Trust. He is an internationally recognised expert in the fields of environmental product standards and standard setting, labelling, energy use, monitoring and testing.

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