What are energy efficiency classes?

Energy efficiency classes - The ABC of saving

When new electronic household appliances are purchased, the energy label gives us information about energy efficiency and, in a sense, about the environmental friendliness of a product. For several years, manufacturers have been required to provide large equipment with the appropriate reference. But bulbs, heaters or entire houses can be better assessed by the different classes.

The EU energy label is just one of many tools we have available to help make the decision when buying new equipment. Not only electricity can be reduced with a frugal appliance, but also water consumption in dishwashers and washing machines.

The EU energy label

What are energy efficiency classes?: label

The EU energy label is currently divided into ten different classes. To the first seven levels from A to G, the grades A +, A ++ and A +++ have gradually been added due to the improved technical possibilities. In some categories, only top-rated devices were previously on the market. Since the label's introduction in the years 1996 to 2011, around 60 percent of energy consumption has been saved by new, more efficient appliances.

Depending on the device, various criteria are included in the assessment. In addition to the power consumption of dishwashers, for example, the water consumption is evaluated. Since technically much improved here in recent years, since 2011, the three additional levels (A + to A +++) have been added.

What are energy efficiency classes?: efficiency

Energy efficiency classes for bulbs

If you want to purchase a new dishwasher, you can save around 30 percent on energy with an A +++ device compared to the A-labeled device. Depending on the design, the new models are equipped with an economy program. The crockery is initially only slightly wetted with water and is clean after a contact time even at low rinsing temperatures. Only the duration of the rinsing process is prolonged.

Since 2011, the labeling requirement with the revised label applies to the following device categories:

  • vacuum cleaner
  • Lamps and bulbs
  • Refrigerators and freezers, wine storage cabinets
  • Electric ovens and cooker hoods
  • dishwasher
  • Washing machines and dryers
  • TV
  • air conditioners

For other electronic devices, there are several other directives besides the EU label regarding energy labeling. However, these are mainly relevant to the manufacturers.

Significance of the label

Since the efficiency of the various device categories is not directly comparable, the label must always be viewed separately per device. A washing machine is subject to different criteria than, for example, a light bulb. In addition, the information on the label is very simplified in order to make a comparison of the huge number of devices at all possible. However, individual handling also plays a major role for actual consumption.

There is also some room for maneuver within each class. Two devices in the same class do not necessarily have exactly the same energy consumption.

The fact that on some devices only top marks (A) could be awarded for a while made it necessary to extend the scale upwards. As early as 2003, the two new stages were first introduced for refrigerators. In 2011, the three highest levels for TVs, dishwashers and washing machines followed. Even refrigerators were still assigned the category A +++.

For the other devices, the seven-step scale still applies. Therefore, anyone who has a machine marked A does not know automatically whether this is the best of the possible levels.

Set minimum standards

For some categories, minimum standards have now been established. Devices that do not meet the criteria may no longer be sold. For example, all new clothes dryers have been required to meet Class B since November 2015. By comparison, a dryer labeled A +++ consumes about 70 percent less energy than one class B.

The label for bulbs

Particularly difficult is the evaluation of the energy label in the various bulbs. In the classification, the light output in conjunction with the energy consumed is crucial. In addition to the large number of different lamp types, this makes it difficult to compare them.

In addition, since 2013 lamps with permanently installed bulbs are no longer included in the assessment of the entire product. Thus, the label gives insufficient information about the actual power consumption, especially since many pears also offer the possibility to dimming.

Further energy efficiency classes

In addition to the EU label, there are various scales in other areas of life that serve to provide a more objective assessment of energy efficiency. For real estate, the different classes are individually listed as part of the energy certificate. This was introduced in 2007 and has been on show since 2013 when an apartment or house is to be rented or sold.

The last update in May 2014 also shows seven different levels from A to G, with A being the most efficient. The scale gives information about the annual consumption of heating energy and is given in kilowatt hours. Again, the classification is to be treated with caution, since individual habits for the actual energy requirement always play a role and only standardized criteria in the assessment included.

For cars as well, there is currently a classification into eight classes from A + to G for the efficient use of the fuel. In order to make a more equitable assessment possible, it has recently been decided that the weight of the vehicle must also be included in the assessment.


For a rough overview and comparing individual devices, the EU label is a first, important clue. The introduction has closed a big information gap here. However, the labeling does not allow conclusions to be drawn about the actual individual energy consumption.

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