Is the industry doing enough to promote energy efficiency and what could/should manufacturers be doing differently, asks Steve Macdonald, the managing director of Hoover Candy UK’s Freestanding Division?
Although the energy label has been a common sight in showrooms since its introduction in 1995 it really only gives the consumer an ‘at-a-glance’ evaluation of how efficient an appliance is. Using this to decide which is the best choice of appliance however, is less straight forward.
Manufacturers can help with clear POS messages that explain what the benefits are and point out that actual energy consumption can differ significantly between products that have the same rating; for example fridge freezers can have the same energy rating but can cost more to run because of their size.
Retailers can do their bit as well, as a one size fits all approach often doesn’t work. Messages need to be tailored to suit individual personal circumstances and finding out about a consumers house, their family and how the product will be used in real life can help with product selection.
The European test standards applied by manufacturers can be very different from the way in which consumers use their appliances; in the case of washing machines the test for energy efficiency is based upon a 6kg 60°C. cottons cycle, when we know that many consumers have larger capacity machines and wash much of their laundry at 40°C. or even 20°C..
Although both manufacturers and consumers are starting to understand the importance of energy efficiency, as an energy-hungry industry, there is always room for improvement. At Hoover Candy for example,we invest a lot of resources into improving our constantly evolving eco-friendly technology and product development.
Education and information
According to a recent study conducted by DEFRA, standby usage is estimated to cost the UK householder £50 to £86 per year. Manufacturers have a duty to inform consumers about this and encourage them not to leave appliances on standby when not in use.
At Hoover Candy we have a number of products (including our dishwashers for example) that have an audible alarm to signal when a cycle has ended. This provides a reminder to users when the wash is finished, thus encouraging them to switch their machines off.
It is absolutely the responsibility of manufacturers to spread the word about resource consumption as well as the costs that can be incurred by disregarding this issue.
Making it clear
A recent report by Mintel supports the view that consumers are concerned with energy efficiency issues, claiming that 74% of respondents believe that an appliance with an energy rating of A+ is essential.
But when it comes to actually parting with hard cash whether this can be translated into sales of more efficient products is another matter. Undoubtedly some consumers are prepared to pay a bit more for energy efficient appliances but for others affordability at the point of purchase may seem more important than long term payback.
It’s these consumers that need more convincing and it’s here that the retailer can really help by demystifying and explaining what the energy label really means and helping to clarifying what’s good, bad and average and equating this to cash savings