Home appliances are a major investment for your home. Most probably you will use them for 5 years or more, and looking at the prices of today, you won’t find much below 300 Euro. Most washing machines, dishwashers and fridges rate around 500 Euros and above. So you should think that people do some research before embarking on the purchase of such a product. Consequently I kind of expected to find all relevant information regarding my imminent purchase of a new dishwasher either on the web pages of the retailers or in the shops themselves. But I was so wrong. My reasoning was as following: a standard dishwasher, with standard measures, in standard white, with a half-load program, less than 13l per load, and AAA rated following the EU Energy Label, preferably at a reasonable price. Measurements and color were not the problem, however the energy efficiency rating and the water consum proofed to be the most challenging bit. First challenge: most shops do not attach the energy label to their products. You either have to open the dishwasher to get it out of the sealed description package inside, or it is not available. Some shop assistants didn’t know what I was talking about-
- Could you tell me the energy rating of this machine?
- Could you please specify?
- [looking through the documentation]
- Yes, A.
- [having seen the document] But this is AAB. I would rather prefer a machine with AAA
- Well, AAA is only a tiny little better than AAB, so you shouldn’t need to worry. AAB is just like 9.8 to 10.
Only that it is not. The last A refers to the drying cycle of the machine, which is actually a very energy consuming act. OK, next intent
- So, could you tell me how much water this machine uses per cycle?
- Not that much.
- Would you mind checking the documentation?
- [Hands the documentation over to me] See for yourself.
- OK, here it says it has a water use of 21l per cycle. That is pretty much. Do you have any washing machine with a similar price that uses less water?
- I would have to go through all the documentation, sorry. Why don’t you take this one?
I went home, and thought attaching energy ratings to home appliances is probably just a very peculiar German thing. But wasn’t it an EU label? So I checked the European Database on European Law for further information. The Council Directive 92/75/EEC of 22 September 1992 on the indication by labelling and standard product information of the consumption of energy and other resources by household appliances (for Non Europeans: Directives issued by the Council of the European Union are mandatory for all member states, even though they may choose different methods to implement them) actually requires all suppliers to supply a label with their home appliances (Article 2) and all retailers have to attach this label to the product (Article 4). [If you like legal texts, you can find the entire directive here.]
But really, this shouldn’t be necessary! Energy as well as water prices are rising, also in Spain. People are complaining about this on a constant basis. So why don’t marketers exploit the argument? People might even spend more money on an low-consuming home appliance, which in turn bring in more revenue for everybody. After all, people will safe money with the device. OK, maybe it’s just a problem of offline marketing.
Perhaps I simply popped into too many untrained and underpaid staff that wasn’t too keen to actually make it easy for me to decide. So I went to the internet. However, even many of the big online retailer, and even those who also work with other European countries, are not very straight forward with the consumption information:
- El Corte Ingles allows me to order by width (45cm, 60cm, or compact). Consumption data and Energy labels are only available after clicking on each product. This means I would have to click through all products. Not very inviting. And even when clicking you don’t get the energy label, but only selected information on the mater.
- Pixmania Spain has a very similar setup to El corte inglés. They give energy information on some machines, but not on all. Randomly allocated, but not strategically placed. Interestingly on the German website the information is to be found with a much higher frequency.
- Eletrocasión is one of the national sites I found which actually contained information righto in the first listing. And the site is not even very elaborate. It is not so difficult, is it?
- And redcoon won my heart. That’s how I want information. The most important stuff on a list and then give me EVERYTHING there is to know on the product. Not just selected details.
Perhaps people do not ask too often about the energy efficiency of their products. But marketing experts as well as retailers should start educating their clients already now and have all information available. Especially when the price is not the only decision point, green arguments will get stronger in the future. And as more and more people are online as well to get information but also to purchase products, you might well include all relevant information, both on your site, and into your product feeds!