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Energy Efficient Products
Air conditioner image
©AdobeStock-StudioHarmony
Air Conditioners and Comfort Fans

Energy labelling and ecodesign requirements apply to this product.

In the relatively mild European climate, space cooling equipment is still a bit uncommon compared to e.g. the US, Japan or South Korea. Not surprisingly, the EU air conditioner market is dominated by companies originating from those countries. However, over time, as the income of Europeans has increased, product prices have sharply decreased and there have been more frequent heat waves the market has grown not only for offices but also homes.

While in 1990 less than 5 million room air conditioners (RACs) were installed, this number has increased to over 50 million in 2010.

In 2020, almost all sold RACs were reversible, meaning that in addition to cooling in the summer they can also provide heating during the winter.

Source: estimations from the Ecodesign Impact Accounting Overview Report 2023

Scope

The following table shows some examples of products in scope and out of scope

In Scope Out of Scope
  • electric mains-operated air conditioners with a rated capacity of ≤ 12 kW for cooling, or heating if the product has no cooling function
  • comfort fans with an electric fan power input ≤ 125W.
  • appliances that use non-electric energy sources;
  • air conditioners of which the condenser-side or evaporator-side, or both, do not use air for heat transfer medium.

The table above is about the Ecodesign scope. Check the complete list in Ecodesign Commission regulation 206/2012 and the Energy labelling Commission regulation 626/2011.

Ecodesign Requirement

Ecodesign requirements for minimum energy performance, maximum sound levels and product information apply to air conditioners and comfort fans sold in the EU. The requirements apply to air conditioners with a rated capacity smaller than or equal to 12 kW for cooling (or heating if there is no cooling function) and to comfort fans with an electric fan power input smaller than or equal to 125W. Non-electric appliances and air conditioners which do not use air as a heat transfer medium are excluded from the scope of this regulation.

Energy Label

Air conditioners come with an energy label showing their energy efficiency, which includes information on the energy rating of their cooling and heating functions and indications of their hourly or annual energy consumption and also their sound levels.

The European Product Registry for Energy Labelling (EPREL) offers more detailed information on models placed on the EU market. The database provides additional information such as sound power, efficiency in heating for 3 different climates, efficiency in cooling mode, annual electricity consumption, design load in heating and in cooling mode, sound power and refrigerant type.

Consumers

Eco-Tips and Tricks

  • To limit indoor temperature increase, prevent sunlight to enter your dwelling as much as possible, using blinds, shutters or window films
  • Comfort fans (just as crosswinds) can make a good job at refreshing you while consuming much less energy than air conditioners
  • Comfort fans can work in parallel with air conditioners and allow you to increase the thermostat and save energy
  • Don’t air out while cooling 
  • When selecting an air conditioner a central air conditioning unit, be sure to choose one with the proper capacity and highest efficiency, don’t oversize it
  • Do not place lamps or TV sets near your thermostat(which can be either a separate equipment on the wall, or a temperature sensor in the remote control). The thermostat senses heat from these appliances which can cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary 
  • Increase the temperature set point as much as comfortable to save energy
  • Cranking down the thermostat will lead to higher consumption, less comfortable operation because of more frequent start and stop of compressor and fan and higher component wearing  

Highlights

These are estimated to have saved 11 TWh and nearly 5 million tons of CO2 emissions in 2020. An air conditioner manufactured in accordance with these requirements is estimated to save €340 on energy bills during its lifetime.

Facts & Figures

This graphic shows the estimated sales, stock, energy consumption (primary, electric or fuel), greenhouse gas emissions, consumer expenses and business revenues for years 2010 and 2030. The estimated values inside the graph bars are those from the EIA ECO-scenario, they include the effects of ecodesign and energy labelling measures.  

The difference with the business as usual (BAU) scenario without these estimated measures is shown next to the graph bar. These figures indicate the estimated savings obtained due to the measures.

SALES (x1000 units)

Air Conditioner Sales Chart

STOCK (x1000 units)

Air Conditioner Stock Chart

Electricity (TWh/a)

Air Conditioner Electricity Chart

GHG-EMISSION
(Mt CO2 eq/a)

Air Conditioner GHG Emissions Chart

CONSUMER EXPENSES
(bn €)

Air Conditioner Consumer Expenses Chart

REVENUES
(bn €)

Air Conditioner Revenues Chart

Source: estimations from the Ecodesign Impact Accounting Overview Report 2023

Expected Savings

Due to the Ecodesign and Labelling measures the average cooling efficiency of RACs increases by a factor 1.46 and the heating efficiency by a factor 1.27 over the 2010- 2030 period. These improved products have higher acquisition costs (+€1.1 bn in 2030) but lead to savings on energy costs (- €4.7 bn in 2030), for net consumer expense savings of €3.6 bn (fixed euros 2020 incl. VAT for residential users). Around 7% of these savings is due to heat load reduction by Ventilation Units.

The expense saving per household in 2030 is €12 per year, but only 20% of households are projected to have an RAC in 2030. The average expense savings for each household having an RAC is thus €60 per year.

Consumer Expenditure Saving due to Ecodesign Measures on Room Air Conditioners: Additional Acquisition Costs and Savings on Energy Costs

Air Condition acquisition savings costs chart

Electricity consumption

Despite the large numbers, the electricity use of RACs in cooling mode (12 TWh in 2020) is modest compared to the 151 TWh consumed in cooling mode by the 8.8 million larger, mostly centralised, air conditioning and chiller systems in commercial buildings that are subject to a separate Ecodesign regulation.

The electricity use of RACs in heating mode is 25 TWh/a in 2020 and thus higher than the consumption in cooling mode. This is mainly due to the average annual demand for heating output per unit (5000 kWh heat/a) being larger than the demand for cooling output (1400 TWh cool/a). In addition, efficiencies are higher in cooling mode than in heating mode. The measures lead to savings on both functions.

air conditioner consumption

Source: estimations from the Ecodesign Impact Accounting Overview Report 2023

Suppliers

Suppliers shall ensure that:

(a) printed label is provided for each air conditioner respecting energy efficiency classes as set out in Annex II. The label shall comply with the format and content of information as set out in Annex III. For air conditioners, except single and double duct air conditioners, a printed label must be provided, at least in the packaging of the outdoor unit, for at least one combination of indoor and outdoor units at capacity ratio 1. For other combinations, the information can be alternatively provided on a free access web site;

(b) a product fiche, as set out in Annex IV, is made available. For air conditioners, except single and double duct air conditioners, a product fiche must be provided at least in the packaging of the out door unit, for at least one combination of indoor and outdoor units at capacity ratio 1. For other combinations, the information can be alternatively provided on a free access web site;​

(c) technical documentation as set out in Annex V is made available electronically on request to the authorities of the Member States and to the Commission;

(d) any advertisement for a specific model of an air conditioner shall contain the energy efficiency class, if the advertisement discloses energy-related or price information. Where more than one efficiency class is possible, the supplier or the manufacturer, as appropriate, shall declare the energy efficiency class for heating at least in ‘Average’ heating season. Information in the cases where end-users cannot be expected to see the product displayed is to be provided as set out in Annex VI;

(e) any technical promotional material concerning a specific model of an air conditioner which describes its specific technical parameters shall include the energy efficiency class of that model as set out Annex II;

(f) instructions for use are made available;

(g) single ducts shall be named ‘local air conditioners’ in packaging, product documentation and in any advertisement material, whether electronic or in paper.

(h) an electronic label in the format and containing the information set out in Annex III is made available to dealers for each air conditioner model placed on the market from 1 January 2015 with a new model identifier, respecting energy efficiency classes set out in Annex II. It may also be made available to dealers for other air conditioner models.

​(i) an electronic product fiche as set out in Annex IV is made available to dealers for each air conditioner model placed on the market from 1 January 2015 with a new model identifier. It may also be made available to dealers for other air conditioner models.

Dealers

Dealers shall ensure that:

(a)  air conditioners, at the point of sale, bear the label provided by suppliers in accordance with Article 3(1) on the outside of the front or top of the appliance, in such a way as to be clearly visible;

(b)  air conditioners offered for sale, hire or hire purchase where the end-user cannot be expected to see the product displayed, are marketed with the information provided by suppliers in accordance with Annexes IV and VI. Where the offer is made through the internet and an electronic label and an electronic product fiche have been made available in accordance with Article 3(1)(h) and 3(1)(i) the provisions of Annex IX shall apply instead;

(c)  any advertisement for a specific model of air conditioner contains a reference to the energy efficiency class, if the advertisement discloses energy-related or price information. Where more than one efficiency class is possible, the supplier/manufacturer will declare the energy efficiency class at least in ‘Average’ season zone;​

(d)  any technical promotional material concerning a specific model which describes the technical parameters of an air conditioner includes a reference to the energy efficiency class(es) of the model and the instructions for use provided by the supplier. Where more than one efficiency class is possible, the supplier/manufacturer will declare the energy efficiency class at least in ‘Average’ season zone;

(e)  single ducts shall be named ‘local air conditioners’ in packaging, product documentation and in any promotional or advertisement material, whether electronic or in paper.

Policy

Ongoing legislative work

Please check the ongoing initiatives on the Have your say portal.

Regulation (EU) 206/2012 of 6 March 2012 implementing Directive 2009/125/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council with regard to ecodesign requirements for air conditioners and comfort fans Text with EEA relevance. More info on Delegated Act.

Regulation (EU) 626/2011 of 4 May 2011 supplementing Directive 2010/30/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council with regard to energy labelling of air conditioners.

Disclaimer: please pay attention to possible updates/changes as indicated in the Official Journal (green dot)

Documents

19 DECEMBER 2023
Impact Assessment SWD(2012) 35
19 DECEMBER 2023
Impact Assessment Summary SWD(2012) 34
5 MARCH 2024
Study on residential ventilation - Final report
5 MARCH 2024
Study on comfort fans –final report