15 June 2020

Not quite good enough: New energy standards for vacuum cleaners still vulnerable to potential abuse

The current CEN-CENELEC work on methods to measure the performance of robot and cordless vacuum cleaners shows progress, which is why ECOS gave it a favourable opinion. Nonetheless, we expect further improvements as the standards are not yet good enough to prevent future potential abuse.

The day vacuum cleaners will carry energy labels again is coming slowly but surely. After Dyson challenged the label in the European Court of Justice in 2018 and won, labels for vacuum cleaners were suspended. To bring them back, the European Commission is working on an updated version of the ecodesign regulation.  ECOS is watching the process closely, to make sure the revision helps tackle the climate emergency.

Robot and cordless vacuum cleaners are becoming more and more popular. Therefore, ECOS believes that the new versions of the ecodesign and energy labelling regulations for vacuum cleaners should also include these variants of the appliances.

In the meantime, the European Standardisation Organisations CEN-CENELEC are developing standard methods for measuring the performance of robot and cordless dry vacuum cleaners, which will likely inform the regulation, should the Commission decide to include these types of vacuum cleaners in the revised rules.

CEN-CENELEC submitted the final drafts of these two standards to a formal vote, and ECOS is generally satisfied with the texts proposed – which is why we issued favourable opinions on the drafts. 

But to keep up with the times and meet the increasing consumer expectations, the information provided to people needs to be as reliable and representative of the actual product behaviour as possible. The methods currently on the table are still not perfect.

First, they are still vulnerable to companies who may wish to circumvent the norms. For instance, the standard for robot cleaners should ensure that the appliance is not intentionally set to reduce its energy consumption by disabling cleaning functions during test.

Second, in the case of cordless vacuum cleaners, the standard does not account for the negative effect battery discharge has on the appliance performance. Not reflecting this reality could result in an underestimation of the annual energy consumption of the appliance.

ECOS will continue working to ensure that these the standards are improved in the next revision, as the time is of essence here: creating standards on energy consumption and other features of robot and cordless vacuum cleaners will be crucial if they are to be included in the updated legal texts. The latter, in turn, are needed to restore the vacuum cleaner energy label as soon as possible and thus help deliver the potential environmental benefits.

ECOS is co-funded by the European Commission and EFTA

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