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Energy Star-Crossed Lovers

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Rightly, the European Union has long touted the effectiveness of its mandatory A to G energy labelling scheme for electronic equipment. It is already saving the average British household over £100 a year on electricity bills.

The argument has always been that the labelling’s great effectiveness is that it is legally binding. And not just a voluntary arrangement between consenting manufacturers.

However, there is one electricity consuming sector of great importance which remains out with the eco-labelling scheme. That sector is office equipment, the likes of VDUs, computers and imaging equipment. 

At the behest of US manufacturers of such equipment, way back in 1992 the American government officially endorsed a purely voluntary, self-policed scheme. It was called Energy Star. And within a dozen years, as such equipment became ubiquitous, this label has become automatically recognised throughout much of the OECD. 

Even though it is essentially a pass/fail. Rather than a graded mechanism as sophisticated as the A to G ratings to be found on lightbulbs, TVs, washing machines et al to be found throughout Europe.

This has long been a source of irritation to the purists. So much so that last year was the last one in which any newly marketed such office equipment sold in Europe would be permitted to be badged with the Energy Star. The intention was always that this equipment would henceforth bear that familiar A to G label instead. 

However, negotiations on defining the precise criteria to achieve this more detailed label have yet to be agreed. And may well not be for a couple of years yet. Which is why if anywhere in the European Union, you are seeking to buy the latest computer equipment, there may well now be no label visible to inform you about its likely electricity consumption.


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