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Online retailers flout legal requirement to display energy labels

Posted by Ross Lammas on 20 July 2012 at 11:57 am

More than half of online retailers are not displaying full energy label information - yet it’s a legal obligation for them to do so!

Wherever you purchase a washing machine, TV or other electrical appliance, energy efficiency information should be displayed, whether you buy it from the high street or an online shop. Yet, the National Measurements Office (NMO)* has found that 56% of online retailers are not displaying full energy label information.  

Why should this matter? Well, knowing the energy consumption of products and looking to reduce our energy consumption is as important as installing renewable energy (I'd say more important - ed). 

Although the energy labelling of electrical appliances has helped to drive improved energy efficiency, there are lots of issues that still need addressing with energy labels. They have been good at raising our awareness of energy efficiency and, apart from Sust-it, are still your only yardstick to the energy efficiency of products.

Yet, figures published in the NMO's Annual Enforcement report, reported that 30% of high street traders are displaying energy labels that are inaccurate when compared with the manufacturer’s information. It’s good to know it is on the case.

In researching information for Sust-it, from manufacturers websites, we’ve noticed retailers website information is often wrong! Very occasionally this has thrown up some inaccuracies with manufacturers.  In one case a Sust-it user selected the most efficient fridge freezer, this at the time was a Candy CCS5166w 204.4 KWh (£28.23), which he bought from an online retailer, only to discover when it arrived that it used 288 KWh (£41.18) that’s £12.95 more electricity per year than Candy had displayed on their site. Luckily the online retailer refunded him and Candy amended their website and so did we! 

Home-branded appliances, or brands that are only available from specific retailers, can throw up other problems. There is no manufacturer information for John Lewis appliances and TVs,  so we have to rely on the retailer’s website energy information. Again, through Sust-it’s research, discrepancies were found; we spotted some incredibly efficient John Lewis branded washing machines only to discover they were mis-labelled on their website! To be fair, one phone call to a knowledgeable white goods buyer at John Lewis and the information was corrected straightaway. 

Sust-it’s advice to you, is that should always check and double check that retailers energy label information is correct. If it’s not displayed complain, and ask why it’s missing. You’re within your rights to complain to Trading Standards if labels are wrong or missing. And when your goods arrive please check that the energy labels match what you ordered, if not send it back.  These rules also apply to advertising;  so if you spot any mis-representations the Advertising Standards Authority will be interested to hear from you. 

*NMO are the body responsible for the market surveillance of energy labelling information.

About the author: Ross Lamas is founder of sust-it.

If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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