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Making product energy claims stick

As part of a drive to stop misleading energy claims, we’re about to crank up the surveillance on goods that consume gas and electricity in the UK and beyond.  We also aim to increase compliance to Europe-wide standards. Think of us as energy-saving mystery shoppers - one of 16 organisations across Europe tasked with this role, to be precise.

This move aims to tackle a significant problem: new European Commission research shows that a fifth of products just aren’t performing according to their marketing spiel, and naturally that leads to predicted energy savings just not being made, falling an estimated 10 per cent short. Energy Saving Trust CEO Philip Sellwood says:

Consumers are wising up to the monetary savings of using the best and most efficient products – they’re trying to do the right thing but need to be rewarded properly through the savings stated being realised. "We need to address the fact that consumers across Europe are not maximising the energy saving benefits stated by millions of products. There is an obvious need to recoup any potential savings through establishing more rigorous market surveillance and standards across energy efficient products and labelling."

This new product surveillance, known as MarketWatch, is necessary if energy efficient products are to be a strong part of reducing carbon emissions from our homes.

There is definitely a demand for energy efficiency from the UK public – our recent survey revealed that 62 per cent would be more energy efficient if there was a clear indication of the energy used in monetary terms. This highlights the importance of clear labelling and product standards in helping to inform UK consumers, to ensure they are buying products that will lead to greater energy savings.

Ultimately, this is not about finger-pointing or even dishonesty. We want to work with those who want to comply to build on our recent work improving product standards in Turkey ahead of EU membership, and also help John Lewis establish a running costs label.

There are many reasons why a manufacturer can make a claim that doesn’t match reality-  from poor access to data to using assumptions rather than in-situ testing. Speaking of which, we’ll also be testing 200 TVs and monitors and LED lighting as part of this renewed bid to ensure people are getting what they have paid for.

We are convinced that people would like to be more energy efficient, but people also have lives to lead. So here at the Energy Saving Trust we aim to be the ‘eyes and ears’ for consumers in the hope that misleading claims may be a thing of the past in the foreseeable future.

Gary Hartley is Energy Saving Trust's expert blogger. He has extensive experience researching and writing on a number of topics, with particular expertise in sustainable energy, policy, literature and sport. As well as providing regular blog content, Gary has also been published in numerous magazines and journals.

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