We had just got used to the ‘rainbow’ colour range of energy ratings on those big sticky labels stuck on the front of new appliances, which ranged from A+++ down to D, but I wonder how many knew that from 1 March 2021 there were some significant changes made to some appliances, with more changes being made from 1 September 2021 - and what’s more, the labelling itself has been improved?

I didn’t know, but they have been designed to help us cut our energy bills, and to reduce our carbon footprint and greenhouse gases for the future.

I used to live in a house fuelled by solar energy, and appliances with low energy ratings were certainly important, and I remember getting quite excited at finding A+++ appliances, as this meant we could probably have one or more items working before the lights went out!

Well, nowadays, without fanfare, things have changed for products manufactured in the EU, according to a press release from Brussels dated 1 March 2021, and initially, there is a new rescaled system for four product categories - fridges and freezers, dishwashers, washing machines, and television sets (and other external monitors). New labelling for light bulbs and lamps with fixed light sources followed on 1 September this year, and other products will follow in the coming years. And for the first time, there will be labelling required for refrigerators with a direct sales function and for welding equipment.

The new ratings are now a simpler but stricter A- G scale, initially with very few products achieving an A rating, to leave space for more efficient products to be included in the future. The most efficient goods currently on the market will be typically labelled B, C or D instead. This will mean that, say, a fridge freezer that had previously had a rating of A+++ now shows a rating C, but it doesn’t mean it is any less efficient, it’s just a new scaling system.

The annual energy consumption is calculated with refined methods as well, so this may read differently too.

What’s interesting also is a new addition to the labelling - a QR code link for customers to access more information on the actual products on an EU wide database, the European Product Registry for Energy Labels (EPREL).

More rules came into force as well, including information on repairability, therefore encouraging manufacturers to make spare parts available for some years after the items are no longer being made. Gone will be the situation where you perhaps have to dispose of a dishwasher because you can’t get the parts any longer. Put simply, this means that all those essential bits that wear out will have to be available to your repairman for at least 7-10 years after the last unit of that particular model was rolled out, and good news for the do-it-yourselfers out there, as products like seals and hinges, etc, should also be available for some years too. In addition, these parts will have to have a maximum delivery time of 15 days – yes, that’s what I read!

The new labelling will not only give indications about energy efficiency, but there are easier to read icons for everything else, from the amount of water per cycle a washing machine uses to how many decibels the appliance produces – good news if your washing machine is stopping conversation at the dinner table!

The old labelling system had been very successful, having been recognised by 93% of consumers, and 79% had considered it when buying energy-efficient products, according to The Special Eurobarometer 492, on Europeans’ attitudes on EU energy policy, which was carried out in the 28 EU Member States between 9 and 25 May 2019 seeking to gauge, for the first time, EU citizens’ opinions about aspects of EU energy policy.

It had guided people enough to help them save money and energy and to motivate manufacturers to invest more into research, but this new system will be much clearer for consumers, and the availability of parts will hopefully extend the life of products that would previously have been destined for the appliance ‘graveyard’ sooner.


Marilyn writes regularly for The Portugal News, and has lived in the Algarve for some years. A dog-lover, she has lived in Ireland, UK, Bermuda and the Isle of Man. 

Marilyn Sheridan