Following consumer confusion a number of appliance manufacturers have begun publishing guidelines on the proposed new energy efficiency ratings.

New European energy efficiency ratings will begin phasing out the 'G', 'F' and 'E' ratings by 2014, 2017 and 2020 respectively and new A+, A++ and A+++ ratings will be gradually introduced after December 2010. These new efficiency labels will eventually apply to all consumer household appliances from televisions to washing machines, but what does A-40% mean?

While the A+ series of energy ratings are relatively easy to understand - the energy efficiency rating of the appliance improves in correlation with the number of + signs - manufacturers such as Electrolux are finding that confusion is arising with the new A-x% rating system.

The A-X% energy rating system is being adopted by some but not all manufacturers, simply because the highest efficiency rating under the new energy guidelines stops at A+++; there is no way of rating a more efficient appliance.

In such cases the A-x% system is used. Under this system each + sign is taken to be equivalent to an energy efficiency of 10% , so A+ is equal to A-10%, A++ = A-20% and A+++ = A-30%; for appliances that have a greater energy efficiency standard than A+++ the rating A-40% could be used, for example, which would mean the appliance is 40% more efficient than an A-rated appliance. Examples of  A-40% rated appliances are the AEG-Electrolux L84950A3 washing machine which retails for around €769 and the Bosch Ecologixx 7 tumble dryer which retails for around €786.    

More information about the new energy rating system can be found at http://www.energylabels.org.uk/eulabel.html

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