How do you read energy labels

Perhaps you're furnishing your home, or maybe your home appliances have simply broken down? If you're faced with choosing a new domestic appliance, you can freely decide between sizes, colours, and many functions. It is also a good idea to look at their energy class when doing so. That way, you can save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Find out how to read energy labels.

3 min read


Ksenia Pisera

Journalist, popularizer of knowledge about environmental and climate protection

Selecting energy-efficient appliances may not only save you money.

There is more to our homes than just a roof over our heads and a place to sleep. Our lives revolve around them, and it’s there that we can be fully ourselves – among other things, relaxing as we wish, developing our interests and passions, raising our children, and meeting our loved ones. All this consumes electricity, and the need is growing. This has been especially the case during a pandemic when we started to spend more time at home in line with existing restrictions and preventive good health practices.

Energy-efficient home: appliances with a touch of class…energy efficiency class.

Selecting energy-efficient appliances may not only save you money. It will also result in lower CO2 emissions into the atmosphere, and the difference may even be several hundred kilograms per year. This is a significant change, even for a single fridge!

Choosing energy-efficient appliances is only possible if you learn to read the energy label. The energy label is a universal label that applies throughout the European Union (based on the Energy Labelling Directive). This aims to reduce energy consumption in EU countries, one of the three EU climate and energy package objectives. Individual choices of appliances that consume less electricity are estimated to save around 230 million tonnes of oil equivalent, which translates into EUR 285 per household per year. Remember, however, that exact calculations will depend on the specific appliances.

It is important to know that in 2021, the energy labels were changed. If you bought a fridge or washing machine a couple of years ago, its labelling would differ from the ones we analyse today. Again, there is more to it than just graphics. Changes have also taken place in the requirements for appliances and the methods for testing and calculating their parameters, so some of the values on the new label will differ from those found on the old one. This means that appliances, which last year were labelled A+++ or A, today could fall into the C to F scale. Well, maybe a B at most.

On the one hand, it should motivate manufacturers of domestic appliances to implement innovations. On the other hand, progress in the energy efficiency of household appliances is already happening. Energy labels, after all, have been in place for more than 20 years so far. As a result, not all A++ appliances were actually on an equal energy-efficiency level.

The former labels of various appliances had separate letter scales for energy class, i.e. an indicator of the number of kilowatt-hours that the appliance is expected to use in a year. Importantly, the energy class tests are carried out in a laboratory – they are not calculations of the marketing department! During the test, one takes into consideration typical usages of the appliance.
Previously the scale was A to D, sometimes with additional pluses, e.g. A+++ and A++ in the case of the most energy-efficient appliances. Currently, all products are marked with the same unified scale from A to G. The overall principle has remained the same – the closer to the beginning of the alphabet, the better.

When comparing the energy class of an appliance, it is crucial to match products from the same category. Smaller fridges will consume less electricity than large two-door refrigerators. In the case of a TV, a larger screen means higher energy consumption. On top of that, there are also issues related to the functionality of the chosen appliance, so the energy class may also differ.

These new energy labels also include a QR code.

You can scan the QR code with your phone and see detailed information about the product in the European Energy Labelling Product Database. The label also includes new pictograms indicating additional appliance parameters, depending on its type, like water consumption, nominal capacity or noise emission in decibels.

The choice of energy-efficient household appliances is one of the simplest ways – and yet more costly than, say, cycling – of reducing one’s greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, it is an essential step towards protecting the climate and the environment! If you want to know exactly how much your carbon footprint is, keep an eye on the TerGo website. Soon a personal CO2 calculator will be published. You can then find out more about how you can help the planet!