With the energy transition in full swing, providing consumers with simple solutions to access technology while encouraging their sustainable living is of critical importance. This is where connected, smart home appliances have the potential to ‘reinvent the wheel’ of the industry landscape through technological advancements. From fridges tracking expiration dates, creating shopping lists and ordering groceries to washing machines that automatically start when receiving a signal from the grid that energy cost is at its lowest level during off peak hours, these products provide significant benefits to consumers as a whole as they help conserve energy, integrate the use of renewable energy sources, pave the way for faster and more accurate appliance repairs, and reduce food waste and unnecessary replacements of appliances – contributing to a new, circular society.
While the benefits of the smart home are clear, ensuring consumer safety is a key prerogative for the sector. Before being placed on the market, appliances must pass rigorous electricity tests that assess their capability to meet safety requirements, under all conditions. Tests are conducted on appliances operating under both routine and unusual circumstances, to earn a true understanding of a product's safety. For example, in the design phase, appliances are subjected to ‘unattended’ testing, ensuring the safety of all operations conducted by the product when no one is home. Safety standards are another measure utilised at European level to certify product safety. These are developed and agreed by the three officially recognised European Standardisation bodies : the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN), the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation (CENELEC) and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI). By setting common standards that apply across the whole of the European Single Market, CEN and CENELEC ensure the protection of consumers, secure the interoperability of products, and enable businesses to grow.
Once security aspects of products are tested under all circumstances, their technological affordances can truly be inherited. The number of smart homes is growing exponentially as consumers recognise both the advantages of using connected appliances and the potential for making their lives easier. APPLiA’s recent statistical report estimates that 31 million Europeans will be using smart appliances in 2024. Today, Digitalisation of home appliances offers us the opportunity to completely reshape how we live as it contributes to the creation of a new, more sustainable lifestyle for all European citizens. To conclude, it is fair to say that recent innovations in the home appliance industry have advanced society as a whole. As Director General of APPLiA, I would like to reaffirm our commitment to the development of safe, connected appliances which aim to better the lifestyles of Europeans each and every day.