Energy Saving Trust have been in charge of Topten UK since 2015 – an initiative somewhat unsurprisingly set up to highlight the leading products for energy efficiency. It's all about making the market clearer for consumers looking to make the best choice, with low running costs and environmental considerations in mind.
How are these energy efficient product lists determined, and how often are they updated? Project Manager Stewart Muir (pictured) explained:
“We look at comprehensive market reports and use them to set criteria for what makes a top ten product. To look at washing machines for example, that would be A+++ with A-rated spin efficiency. We also try to take into account including a range of models and costs – it’s very important that Topten is a resource that covers different preferences and budgets, but always points consumers towards an efficient product.
“The lists have to be updated at least every six months, but we tend to look at the trends here – different product types generally get refreshed at specific times of the year, so we try to work around that.”
A few interesting points of note from the latest round of updates:
Those companies featuring in the countdown must be pretty pleased with themselves – but what happens if a manufacturer questions why its product has not ranked in the top 10?
Stewart said: “A couple of companies have approached us to get their most up-to-date models included, but no-one has questioned why they're not there as yet. We are definitely open to working with manufacturers, say for example if they've got some data they want to share on efficiency. The market moves very fast and we are keen for manufacturers to give us details of their most efficient models so Topten is always as representative of the market as it can be. There could also be opportunities for us to work together to verify savings.”
Topten is an international project, with lists compiled in 16 European countries, as well as China, Chile and Argentina. How is the UK comparing to its international counterparts?
Stewart explained: “There is some work done looking across the consortium at what we all have. One difference is there aren't many A+++ freezers in the UK market, whereas there are a number of models in Europe. Then in warmer countries like Spain, they look at the energy efficiency of air conditioning units – something it's not really worth doing for the UK.”
The project is funded by the European Commission's Horizon 2020 initiative – which does spark inevitable questions about the impact of the UK's pending exit from the EU on product energy efficiency standards.
Stewart said: “In terms of energy labelling and eco design, UK products sold in Europe would still have to feature energy labels and meet minimum standards. Whatever happens though, the UK could now take the opportunity to really lead in this area.
“Regardless of political stance, people can't deny that these initiatives have changed the market for the better. A recent JRC report on energy efficiency showed that the average fridge-freezer and washing machine sold in 2014 now uses 25% less energy than a decade ago. This is a pretty massive improvement.”