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Tougher energy efficiency regime under review

The Government is considering proposals to come down heavily on heating, ventilation and air conditioning manufacturers who fail to meet tougher efficiency standards.

Next Thursday (July 16) a joint event organised by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Energy Efficiency Partnership for Homes will launch a consultation on how to raise product efficiency standards - including heating and cooling technology - between now and 2030.

The meeting will also discuss a revised compliance and enforcement regime for the Eco-design of Energy Using Products and Energy Labelling Framework Directives.

Amongst the options put forward by Defra are heavy financial and administrative penalties similar to those already imposed in Australia on air conditioning products – where one manufacturer had to pay out more than £140,000 in compensation after a product failed efficiency tests.

Consultant Bill Cory visited Australia to discuss the new ISO fan efficiency standard he helped develop and came away impressed by the tough approach being developed: “In Australia within the air conditioning sector they have imposed some huge fines and forced one company to withdraw a unit from the market.

“They are putting rather more teeth on their enforcement than we are at the moment. We will need this level of enforcement in the future and high level fines would be highly desirable.”

The Government sees improving enforcement as crucial due to the number of Eco-design requirements – covering boilers, water heaters, air conditioning systems and other products – being put in place in the next two to three years under European regulations.

It also estimates 15 per cent of products do not meet minimum standards and 25 per cent do not meet the performance level detailed on their label.

As a result tougher financial penalties are being considered by Defra alongside increased criminal sanctions.

Also being looked at are “administrative penalties” which can cover a range of measures including forcing companies to advertise breaches, change business practices, reimburse product costs or cover replacement costs.

One option could be to make companies pay extra electricity costs based on the difference between the expected and the actual performance of a product.

Bob Towse, HVCA head of technical, said: “A heavy fine in a test case would bring about a huge change in attitude. Legislation is only as good as enforcement. When we find someone who is not conforming we need to throw the book at them.”

Geoff Lockwood, chairman of the Fan Manufacturers Association and technical director at ebm papst, said: “Tougher enforcement within reason is welcome and means we can all work towards meeting the new regulations. Weak enforcement means people can do what they want and honest businesses miss out on business.“

Defra is also looking at what body should oversee the new enforcement regime. Options being looked at are using trading standards, a central government agency/body or a combination of both.

Mr Lockwood pointed out that trading standards has traditionally focussed on safety issues and struggled to effectively cover regulations linked to energy efficiency such as  EPCs and DECs.

Further information on next week's consultation event

Defra homepage for 'Consultation on the Implementation of the Market Surveillance and Enforcement Requirements of the Eco-design of Energy Using Products and Energy Labelling Framework Directives'

The full report