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issue: April 2011 ApplianceMagazine.com

Europe's Non-Compliant Appliances

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The ATLETE program tested 80 appliances to prove that European market testing of efficiency label compliance is both feasible and desperately needed. The program's 53% failure rate makes the case all to well.

The April 12, 2011 release of Appliance Testing for Energy Label Evaluation (ATLETE) test results shows that a higher level of market surveillance is needed to keep European appliance labels compliant.

Project test were released during the ATLETE conference, held April 12 in Brussels during the European Union’s Sustainable Energy Week. Luigi Meli, general director of European appliance industry association CECED, called the results "disappointing."

The good news: 84% of tested appliances complied with the energy efficiency class declaration and two related key parameters: energy consumption and storage volume.

The bad news: less than half – 47% - of the tested appliances were found to comply with all five test parameters.

Four laboratories carried out testing of 80 appliance models (all refrigerators and freezers) from 40 appliance producers. The parameters tested for included:
• energy consumption
• storage temperature (including the climate class)
• storage volume
• freezing capacity
• temperature rise time

A statement released by ATLETE today pointed out that two of those parameters - freezing capacity and temperature rise time – "have been less commonly checked since the energy label was introduced in 1995."

ATLETE has said repeatedly that the test results are "indicative only," and that only the market surveillance authorities in each European Union member state can legally declare an appliance to be compliant or non-compliant.

ATLETE has also said that the 80 appliance models it tested represent a small sample of all the models sold in Europe by the entire appliance industry, so the test results are not sufficient for judging the overall compliance of any appliance maker's product line.

If nothing else, ATLETE has fulfilled its primary goal: to prove that pan-European monitoring of appliance labeling is possible, practical, and necessary.


The program was launched in 2009 and is intended to end in May 2011. The five project partners are:
• European Committee of Domestic Equipment Manufacturers (CECED)
• SEVEn, The Energy Efficiency Center of the Czech Republic
• French Agency for the Environment and Energy Management (ADEME)
• Istituto di Studi per l’Integrazione dei Sistemi, a Italian private research and consultancy firm
• ENEA, the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development

The four testing laboratories used were:
• Re/genT BV (The Netherlands)
• ipi-Institut für Produktforschung und Information Gmbh (Germany)
• LCOE - Laboratorio Central Oficial de Electrotecnia (Spain)
• VDE Prüf- und Zertifizierungsinstitut GmbH (Germany)

The ATLETE program's overall cost was €1 million and it received 75% of its financing from the EC’s Intelligent Energy Europe Programme.

Of the 80 models selected, 54 belong to appliance producers that cooperated with the project and agreed to take corrective action should test results indicate their products were non-compliant. All producers were invited to sign the protocol before their product was selected for testing.

CECED: Compliance Must Improve

"The level of compliance with energy label requirements must improve," stated CECED General Director Luigi Meli one of the project partners. "These results are disappointing but they do not detract from the industry’s position on this issue."

Meli added, "Strong market surveillance is the best way to ensure a level playing field, fair competition for domestic equipment manufacturers operating within the Single Market and a high level of protection for the consumers. It is essential that Governments provide adequate resources to ensure market surveillance."

"The level of market surveillance for appliance energy labeling in most European Union Member States is too low," said ATLETE Project Coordinator Andrea Ricci. "We therefore hope that the positive experience of this project will support efforts for a greater level of market surveillance activity from national authorities. It is needed. The ATLETE project’s results suggest that without market surveillance the level of compliance of products on the market suffers."

Bosch und Siemens Couldn't Agree More

BSH Bosch und Siemens Hausgeräte GmbH released a statement on the day of the conference to point out that the ATLETE results show its appliances are correctly labeled – unlike appliances from some BSH competitors.

"Correct labeling of the appliances, especially in relation to energy efficiency, is an important orientation aid when deciding to purchase an appliance. Consumers have a right to correct labeling. Furthermore, incorrect information leads to distortion of competition," said Dr. Kurt-Ludwig Gutberlet, Chairman of the BSH management board.

BSH, like all CECED member companies, signed the agreement promising to address non-compliant products identified by the testing. However, all four BSH appliances were found to be compliant with all five test parameters. The four appliances tested were:
• freestanding Bosch-brand refrigerator
• freestanding Balay-brand refrigerator
• built-in Siemens-brand refrigerator
• freestanding Bosch-brand freezer

Bosch and Siemens are both global BSH brands. Balay is a BSH brand primarily sold in Spain and Portugal.

"We have been intensively testing our appliances ourselves over a long period to ensure the accuracy of the information," said Gutberlet. "At the end of the day, we want to ensure honesty and clarity for consumers and will do our part to achieve this. This is the only way also that the key objective of improved climate protection through energy efficiency can be achieved."

BSH noted that 13% of tested appliances were labeled with an energy efficiency class rating too high, and 3% were labeled with an energy efficiency rating two or more cases too high.

BSH also noted that many of the 53% of appliances that did not meet all five criteria were non-compliant due to incorrect information on refrigerator or freezer volume, chilling temperature, or freezing capacity.

BSH Wants ATLETE to Continue

From its inception in 2009 the ATLETE program was designed to be short-lived. It was intended to make its findings then shut down in May 2011.

BSH sees a need for the program to continue indefinitely as a body charged with performing pan-European market surveillance of appliance label compliance.

BSH already adapted the labeling of its appliances voluntarily to the new energy label classes introduced in December 2010. From December 2011, these will apply bindingly for all manufacturers who place appliances on the market in the EU.

"We would welcome a continuation of ATLETE, particularly with respect to the newly introduced top classes A+ to A+++," said Gutberlet. "Only when consumers trust the label and accordingly opt for the most energy-efficient appliances can we as a sector effectively contribute to reducing European energy consumption."


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