Energy Saving Trust’s international collaboration team has been co-ordinating the Digi-Label project – a European project to improve consumer understanding of energy labels – for the past three years. As the project draws to a close, they’ve released a snapshot of some of the early findings from their work.
A full report will be released following the project’s conclusion at the end of March 2019.
The Digi-Label project came about because of confusion around what energy appliance labels mean. In 2020, new re-scaled energy labels will come into use, which should provide clearer information for people wanting to buy a new energy-efficient washing machine, dishwasher or other appliance. In the interim, the Digi-Label project team worked tirelessly to create a web tool to present the information to consumers in more digestible format – in the form of PocketWatt.
The Digi-Label project is coming to an end, but PocketWatt has proved so successful that it’s going to be maintained for the next two years, to allow people in the UK and across Europe to continue to get up-to-date information and advice when they buy new appliances.
PocketWatt – enabling informed purchasing decisions
PocketWatt aims to make the information that’s presented on an appliance’s energy labels clearer and more relevant to individuals. It provides explanations of terms you see on energy labels, such as capacity, together with an idea of the size of household it’d be useful for.
More importantly for the energy and budget conscious, it shows the running cost of each appliance – annually or over a period of five or 10 years. You can personalise the settings so they reflect your own energy tariff and frequency of use, to give a more accurate picture of the costs you’ll incur.
For wet goods, such as washing machines and dishwashers, the tool gives a running cost that includes both electricity and water charges. It also shows you how each product’s running costs compare to similar ones, allowing you to directly compare models from the comfort of your own home or when you’re on the shop floor.
You can find PocketWatt online and use it at home or in store. There’s also a version that retailers can use by putting QR codes on relevant appliances in store, or embedding it on their websites through an online widget.
Three years on – an evaluation
As the Digi-Label project comes to a close, Energy Saving Trust is evaluating how successful the project has been. It is clear from the data that people see the PocketWatt tool as a useful support when buying large domestic appliances. Most people who used the tool had a greater understanding of the energy label information, so they could make a more informed purchase decision.
PocketWatt’s success doesn’t end there.
It’s set to play a key role in the launch of the new European Product Registry Database (EPREL). When it launches next year, the EPREL database will house specifications for all products that fall under the scope of the Energy Labelling regulations. So there will be a central hub of product information that people can access, as well as making it easier for Market Surveillance Authorities to carry out their own responsibilities.
This hub will need a user-friendly front end for people to access information. So we’ve presented the European Commission, who are organising this project, with PocketWatt as a potential solution. Negotiations and the database development is ongoing, but the Commission has committed to linking to PocketWatt from the Europa website, as a consumer friendly interface for the information held in the EPREL database.
The Digi-Label project team are now working closely with the Commissions’ technical team to understand how product data can be shared between the EPREL database and PocketWatt. To this end, and to support the work of the European Commission, the PocketWatt tool will be available for use until at least 2021 – two years beyond the life of the Dig-Label project, allowing people around Europe to view and compare appliances.
The final evaluation of the Digi-Label project will be presented to stakeholders at a conference on 26 March 2019. A member of the EPREL database team will also present the collaborative work that has taken place to ensure the future of the PocketWatt tool.
Digi-Label may be coming to an end, but PocketWatt lives on to help people find out how energy efficient products are, as well as explaining why it matters.