Brussels - EU-mandated energy efficiency labels - which currently include classifications that reach up to A+, A++ and A+++ - will be restricted to a clearer A-to-G scale under a new framework adopted by EU energy ministers on Monday.
The new regulation, which was approved by individual EU member states after being adopted by the European Parliament earlier in June, aims to help consumers reduce energy costs and moderate energy demand in the bloc by letting them know which products are most efficient.
The original labelling system ran from A to G, but was gradually expanded to include classes ranging up to A+++ as household appliances grew increasingly energy efficient, prompting regulators to seek something beyond the top A category.
Under the new framework, energy efficiency ratings will be reshuffled so they once again fit into classes A to G. They say this is to avoid confusion among consumers. The parameters for the categories will be periodically rescaled based on technological advancements.
For so-called "white products" - dishwashers, fridges and washing machines - the new labels will need to fully replace the old ones in stores by 2020. The transition for other products can take up to nine years.
The European Environmental Citizens Organization for Standardization (ECOS), a non-profit organization promoting environmental aspects of standards and specification, welcomed the move.
The organization noted, however, that the shift "will take a significant amount of time for existing labels, risking confusion on the market for several years. "