Singapore Budget 2014: Revised energy labelling scheme for home appliances

Under the National Environment Agency's (NEA) revised Mandatory Energy Labelling Scheme, appliances will be given a rating of between one and five ticks - with five ticks indicating the most efficient models, and one tick, the least.

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Here is the press release from NEA:

Enhancements to improve energy efficiency for households to be implemented

Revised energy labels and extension of performance standards to help consumers shop with greater confidence and achieve better energy efficiency

SINGAPORE - Consumers can soon make even better informed decisions when purchasing energy intensive home appliances due to enhancements to the National Environment Agency's (NEA) Mandatory Energy Labelling Scheme (MELS) and extension of the Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) to include more appliances.

The improvements to MELS and MEPS seek to encourage more households to choose energy efficient appliances with low life-cycle costs. This, in turn, will allow them to reduce their utilities bills as well as help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the long run.

Revised Energy Labels

Starting from 1 September 2014, the revised energy labels will carry estimated annual energy cost and energy consumption information. This will help inform consumers of the life-cycle cost of an appliance before purchasing it. With the introduction and tightening of MEPS, and the continuous improvements in the energy performance of appliances over the years, the existing tick rating system has limited bands to differentiate appliance models. To better differentiate more efficient models from the less efficient ones and reflect the improvements in the energy efficiencies of appliances in today's market, the energy rating system will be recalibrated.

Under the new rating system, the most efficient models will be awarded 5-ticks. 1-tick products will make up the lowest efficiency band. The "no-ticks" band will be removed as some consumers were confused when they came across labels without any ticks.

The energy label design will also be updated to boost its readability. However, to retain consumers' familiarity of the previous energy label, the rounded-top, rating descriptor and rating scale design will be retained.

Extension of MELS to Televisions

MELS will also be extended to televisions in April 2014, making it the first appliance under the MELS umbrella to carry the revised labels. As consumers may be attracted to buy large screen high-performance televisions, MELS could help heighten consumers' awareness of the energy performance of such televisions and assist them in their purchasing decisions. Potential energy savings for the whole of Singapore from switching from low to medium or high efficiency televisions are estimated to be between $12.2 million and $19.7 million annually.

Following NEA's consultation with suppliers, the revised energy labels will officially come into effect for air-conditioners, refrigerators and clothes dryers in September this year. Progressively, NEA intends to extend MELS to other energy intensive home appliances.

Extension of MEPS to Clothes Dryers and Lighting

Besides the energy labelling scheme, MEPS is another initiative by NEA aimed to help consumers lower their energy consumption at homes. MEPS will be implemented for clothes dryers in April 2014, and general lighting later this year. NEA's household energy consumption study commissioned in 2011 showed that clothes dryers are widely used in private apartments and landed housing where the penetration rates are 32 per cent and 18 per cent respectively. For such homes, clothes dryers can account for about 5 per cent of their total energy consumption. Lighting is used in all households and is among the top 5 energy consuming household appliances and devices.

Over the next few years, NEA will progressively tighten MEPS levels and also extend MEPS to other appliances to further encourage suppliers to continually bring in even more energy efficient household appliances.

As suppliers have been introducing more and more energy efficient models since the implementation of MEPS, there is now an increased availability of such appliances in the market. This spells good news for consumers. Their upfront cost is lowered further as energy efficient appliances become more affordable.

By choosing appliances carefully, consumers stand to reap significant cost savings over the life-cycle of owning an appliance.