Recommendations Household Refrigeration

Download Topten's policy recommendations for household refrigerators and freezers (January 2016)


The efficiency development of domestic cold appliances of the last 20 years is a success story. Nevertheless, there are still large improvement potentials (e.g. vacuum space insulation, variable speed motors, LED lamps) and the current revision of the Energy Labelling and Ecodesign regulation can support developments towards refrigerators and freezers consuming even less energy. Key is the simplification of the EEI calculation formula so that the energy label brings real transparency regarding the energy efficiency of cold appliances and shows consumers which models have the lowest energy consumption.

Policy recommendations in short

Energy Label

New Label classes are needed, restoring the Energy Label’s incentive on manufacturers to develop even more efficient products. Topten favours an A-G Label, which is re-scaled regularly. Class A should be empty on a new Label, and present the target to be reached by innovation.

The EEI calculation formula must be made simpler and more transparent. Realising the following principles will allow the Label to bring real transparency regarding energy efficiency and counteract current trends impeding higher energy savings:

  1. The Energy Label and minimum efficiency requirements must be technology-neutral. For cold appliances the current system of different reference lines for each category must be abandoned. A compartment of a certain volume and temperature must be treated equally, no matter which category it is part of. The ‘adjusted volume’ already accounts for different temperatures in the compartments, and one reference line per type of compartment (cooling / freezing) is sufficient.
  2. Energy efficiency must be defined considering only a product’s primary function. Extra features or functions should receive no bonuses or allowances. For cold appliances, the ‘correction factors’ for a Frost Free function, for tropical/subtropical and built-in models and for a chill compartment must be removed.  The correction factors hide the additional energy consumption of these extra features.
  3. The Energy Label and efficiency requirements should not favour large models over smaller ones: the reference lines should be based on technical considerations, but rather flat.

These changes would counteract the trends towards larger models and higher energy consumption through extra features, and would offer a stronger incentive to higher energy efficiency also for combi models by allowing consumers to compare their energy efficiency with refrigerators and freezers.

All wine coolers, minibars and (commercial) vertical static-air cabinets should be explicitly included in the revised Label regulation for household refrigerating appliances, no matter if they are marketed for commercial or household use. These products are not included in the draft regulations of Lot 12 on commercial display cabinets. For wine coolers today the Energy Label is usually not provided if they are sold for commercial/ professional use.

January 2016, Michel, Geilinger, Bush