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03 September 2012

Sales of energy-efficient products too low warns UK think tank
Sales of energy-efficient products are too low if they are on track to meet expected 2020 energy saving targets according to UK think tank the Green Alliance.

Energy-efficient product potential is also being undervalued and scepticism over EU regulation on the matter is unhelpful says the report, written by Tom Turnbull.

This is in response to the Committee on Climate Change's analysis of efficient products which found that A++ rated cold appliances - mainly - fridge and freezers - made up only 1% of the total stock and A++ rated wet appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines, made up only 8.2%. To be on track to meet the 2020 energy savings target by next year, the appliances market share must be increased to 18% and 53% respectively - a huge jump.

Mr Turnbull claims that "without action, at least 40% of projected electricity savings risk not being achieved."

Noting that UK householders are using 10% more energy than previous estimates suggested, Mr Turnbull supports the EU 'ecodesign directive,' a range of EU-wide rules that aim to improve the environmental performance of energy-related products . According to Defra, ecodesign could deliver net benefits of £26bn during the period 2009-2030.

The report, entitled 'Cutting Britain's energy bill: making the most of product efficiency standards' contains several recommendations for making the most of product efficiency policy. These include introducing a Feed In-Tariff for energy efficient product purchases, and introducing a 'top runner' approach to ecodesign regulation whereby the best available technology would be set as the minimum standard for energy-efficient ratings.

Other recommendations include a long term directive of extending ecodesign to a much wider range of products and introducing a more informative system of labelling energy consumption figures on appliances. The report calculates that if households were using the most efficient appliances available, it would result in a £67- £93 decrease in energy bills.

Its release comes just days after the deadline that see EU shops banned from ordering new stocks of energy intensive incandescent light bulbs of 40 watts or lower. Mr Turnbull insists that EU regulations will help cut costs and carbon, noting that the success of product policy of the UK condensing boiler standards currently saves customers £8m a year. He claims it is unhelpful that the ecodesign regulations have been portrayed as another unwelcome EU imposition, suggesting that headlines such as 'How many Eurocrats does it take to change a light bulb?' do little to help the issue.

According to the report, the fact that many products are more efficient these days is being mitigated by the fact that consumers are buying larger items and more of them. For example it has been estimated that since 1975 refrigerators have improved their efficiency by 25%, but at the same time the total number of refrigerators has risen by 50% and they are on average, 30% larger.

Following the report's recommendations would, says Mr Turnbull, "maximise the value of a proven policy tool, and enable the UK and EU to reduce their environmental impact while increasing resilience to high and volatile resource prices."

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