The New Energy Label: Assessing Consumer Comprehension and Effectiveness as a Market Transformation Tool

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The EU’s energy labelling programme dates back to the mid-1990s. The design of the label was the first leading energy label design to be informed by consumer research and this guided the adoption of key elements of the design. This iconic design was applied to refrigerators, then other domestic appliances and has since been adopted in EU energy labels for lighting, cars and buildings. Many countries around the world have adopted key elements of the design. 

In recent years, the design of the label for household refrigerators, washing machines and dishwashers has been modified to include the introduction of additional efficiency classes up to the A+++ class. There has also been a move away from a two-part label with a language specific background to a single language-neutral label that is the same across the whole EU. Given such significant changes and the active debate which preceded them, it is important to establish how well the revised labels work with consumers to assess their likely energy saving impact. This paper presents the preliminary findings of a comprehensive consumer research study which does exactly this. 

Consumer focus groups and questionnaires were conducted in ten cities across the EU and were complemented by three sets of in-depth interviews held in London, Prague and Paris. The methodology involved a mixture of qualitative and quantitative market research techniques that was designed to extract the maximum amount of information in an unbiased and non-leading way. 

The research was carried out by Navigant Consulting and funded by CLASP. Sowatt and SEVEn also contributed to the research in the data collection phase.


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