Air conditioners and space heaters: comparing is scaring

Imagine if the best students were not be able to pass to the next class despite their great marks only because the rules have changed. What would your child do if it knows that it could not have an “A”? It might become less motivated to study hard, and that would be a pity.

All eyes are on EU’s newly-elected Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen who has committed to propose a European Green Deal in her first 100 days in office. The expectations are that two of the evergreen tools helping consumers to live more sustainably - energy labelling and ecodesign - will be seen as some of the ways to engage citizens in the causes of the Energy Union.

Undoubtedly, heating and cooling would continue to receive a lot of political attention. Air conditioners have the potential to automatically adjust when they receive a signal from the grid that energy cost is at its lowest level or delay their cycle slightly, to adapt to the needs of the grid. Their technological superpower makes them almost unique to be compared and placed in the same basket.

“We hear proposals to merge energy label regulations for air conditioners and local space heaters. While this might seem as a logical move at first sight, a deeper look would clearly show that since some technologies have limits in improvement potentials, such merge will not lead to better products since the range of efficiency-classes will be linked mainly to a specific technology” said APPLiA’s Director General Paolo Falcioni. In other words, the best students would not be able to pass to the next class despite their great marks only because the rules have changed. “What would your child do if it knows that it could not have an “A”? It might become less motivated to study hard, and that would be a pity” he further added. To be fair with all, when appropriate, a dedicated label for some products could inform users about the best appliances  for each technology. By allowing consumers to compare apples with apples, manufacturers would be also further stimulated to compete and design better products.

This summer, when temperatures in some European countries went even beyond 40 degrees, social media posts such as “in love with my air conditioner” flooded the internet. The reason is simple - air conditioners bring comfort and are often a necessity, something local space heaters could also say for themselves. They can quickly warm up our bathrooms or a room that we barely use. On the other hand, they have different heating capacity, require different installation and bear different costs. So, comparing the two on the same scale could be scary.

​Leaving aside the very different nature of the two types of products, ​​the EU, manufacturers and consumer organisations are yet to face another ​hard task - ​​the communication of the upcoming new​ energy​ label. “​To keep consumers’ trust in the tool, policy makers must make sure that the energy label is still able to steer innovation and be the European orienting tool for a sustainable purchase”, Paolo Falcioni highlighted.