Recommendations Washing Machines

Topten's policy recommendations for washing machines and washer-dryers (December 2015, pdf)



The Ecodesign and Energy Label regulations for washing machines and combined washer-driers are under currently revision. A preparatory study is underway and will propose policy options. A Consultation Forum meeting might take place in autumn 2016, when the revised Energ Label framework regulation has been adopted.

Topten product lists show that the best washing machine model is exceeding the class A+++ threshold by 50%. Clearly a new energy label is needed. Topten has provided input to the preparatory study team, in collaboration with ECOS and EEB. Topten's market monitoring study from June 2015, including washing machines, has contributed recent sales data to the process. The study has shown that today energy efficient washing machines do not necessarily consume less energy than less efficient ones, but they're mainly larger.

Key comments from December 2015:

1. The size issue needs to be addressed

It seems that the Energy Label is providing a wrong incentive towards larger washing machines, which are consuming more, not less energy. This must be stopped: by including a small load (e.g. 2kg) into the test, and by applying a digressive reference line instead of a linear one.

2. Label programmes must be user-friendly and easy to find

Today the Label programmes (cotton 40°C and 60°C) are used in a minority of washing cycles. Reasons may be that they last too long, and that they're not easy to find. Other programmes can use a lot more energy. We're suggesting the following measures to increase the user-friendliness and use of the standard programmes:

  • No duplication of the cotton 40°C and 60°C programmes. Today the standard programmes are optimised for the energy label, but not for user friendliness. In many models they are more or less hidden, while there is a second version of these programmes (e.g. named 'normal'): easily accessibe, faster, but consuming (much) more energy and with unknown wash performance. If there can be only one general version of these programmes, manufacturers would have to make real trade-offs between energy consumption, washing performance and programme duration.
  • Requirement to meet the promised temperature: Today the standard programmes are super efficient, because they never reach the promised wash temperature of 60°C or 40°C. Low temperature is compensated for with long duration, to still achieve a sufficient wash performance. A requirement to reach or at least get close to the temperature in the programme name is technically easy and would guarantee that users are no longer deceived. At the same time long programme time would no longer be needed.

07/2016 Michel/Bush