An intriguing piece of European Union legislation came into force earlier this week which will affect every home across Europe.
From 1st September 2014, it now illegal to manufacture or import vacuum cleaners into the European Union which are above 1600 watts in power. The new EU directive is targeting high power appliances which are considered to waste too much energy, in a bid to meet ever tightening energy use targets to help tackle climate change.
The EU is predicting the new laws will help save 19 terawatt hours of energy every year by 2020, which is the equivalent of more than four nuclear power plants worth of energy for 5.5 million households.
The new legislation has already proved to be controversial and unpopular. A recent study in the UK by a consumer magazine identified that five of the top seven best-selling vacuum cleaners had motors greater than the 1600 watt target, meaning manufactures have had to withdraw a number of their most popular models in order to meet the 1st September deadline. Old stock of the now “illegal” appliances were also flying off the shelves as panic buying consumers were quick to purchase the more powerful range of vacuum cleaners while they could.
This is the first stage of new legislation which will be further tightened on the 1st September 2017 as all vacuum cleaners will then have to have motors less than 900 watts.
It has been suggested that manufactures have steadily increased the power of their vacuum cleaners over the years in order to make consumers believe that the higher the power, the better the cleaning potential. This is also the perception of many consumers who choose higher power and therefore higher energy use appliances. However, research has shown higher power does not necessarily mean higher suction as there are many variables, such as nozzle design, hose shape and length, plus filter and dust collection systems. An empty vacuum cleaner will also be more efficient than one with a dust load.
Observers have also noted that while this EU directive is targeting energy use of new vacuum cleaners, it is not tackling the landfill issue created by the estimated 126 million used cleaner bags and filters which end up in Europes’ landfill sites every year.
With only three years until the 900 watt maximum deadline, manufactures will need to focus on innovation and to start to create new, more efficient appliances which produce the same suction with less energy. One such company who have innovated heavily in this sector is Dyson, who are famous for the bagless vacuum cleaner. All of their products are below 1600 watts and have the performance to match their more powerful bagged rivals.
From 1st September 2014 all new vacuum cleaners must also carry the EU “A – G” energy rating guide which has become common place on fridges and freezers. This will also allow the consumer to make comparisons on how energy efficient their new vacuum cleaner will be.
So while vacuum cleaners represent the next step of the European Union’s tightening up on consumer’s energy use, next on the agenda is the humble hair dryer.