Your sure-fire guide to energy labels and performance certificates

Is your home energy efficient? How energy-guzzling are your appliances? Want to find out? EU energy labels help you understand the efficiency of your white goods. While energy performance certificates tell you the energy rating of your home. They can look confusing, so we’ve explained all in our easy guide.

We all know at least three energy saving tips that could help lower your household energy bills. But have you ever thought to look at the energy rating of your home and your white goods?

Old fridges, tumble dryers and dishwashers could be eating up more money than you realise. Upgrading your old appliances to a more energy efficient model could help lower your bills.

And understanding your home’s energy rating means you can make informed decisions when it comes to improving your home. Such as whether double glazing or roof insulation is worth it.

So, when it’s finally time to part with your cash and upgrade your appliances or house, make sure you understand the energy rating. It could save you money without having to lift a finger.


What is an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for your home?

An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) measures the energy efficiency of a property on a scale from A – G.

It includes the property’s energy efficiency rating, its environmental impact and advice on how to make your home more efficient.

It’s part of an EU initiative to improve energy efficiency and reduce the carbon footprint of the EU. It’s required by law for nearly all properties that are being bought or sold.

Here’s how they calculate your EPC:

  1. A Domestic Energy Assessor (DEA) or a chartered surveyor will visit your home.
  2. They’ll inspect the age, size and property type, its construction, insulation, windows, lighting and heating systems. This can take anywhere between 20 and 60 minutes depending on how easy it is to access the different areas. If you have an attic, they will also check this and tell you what insulation you already have.
  3. Once completed, they’ll run the data through a computer using a special algorithm to give you your energy efficiency rating. This forms part of your EPC.
  4. You will then receive the report in the next few working days.

It’s worth noting that the EPC will only consider the energy efficiency of the building. The surveyor won’t check any of your white goods since how you use energy isn’t rated. Only the overall energy efficiency of the building itself is considered.


What information is on the EPC?

The EPC is designed so it’s as easy to understand as possible. The report will show 2 tables: the energy efficiency rating and the environmental impact of the property.

The table runs from G (least energy efficient), shown in red, to A (highly efficient) shown in dark green. Each letter also has a corresponding number from 1-100 so you can see where your property falls on the scale.

Look at the example energy efficiency rating below:


  1. The graph shows the current energy efficiency of the property. In this example, the current rating is C69. This is higher than the average property rating in England, which is currently around D60.
  2. The potential rating shows what your house could be if you undertook changes to improve the properties energy efficiency.


Below is an example of the Recommendations Report you receive with an EPC. It includes in-depth advice on how to improve the EPC rating of your property. The report tells you the indicative cost and potentially what you could save if you took on their suggestions.



What are EU energy labels?

An energy label is used to help customers make decisions when buying white goods about their energy efficiency. By law, the label must appear on appliances like:
• Fridges and freezers
• Hoovers
• Washing machines
• Tumble dryers
• Dishwashers
• Lightbulbs
• Ovens
• TVs
• Air conditioning

The label tells you how much energy the appliance will consume using a scale from A – G, with A being the most energy efficient. The scale is also colour coded with the most energy efficient shown in green, and least efficient in red.

For certain appliances, grade A is split into a further three categories of A+, A++ and A+++. With A+++ being the most efficient.

The appliance will receive a grade based on how many kW they use per hour. The lower their kWh, the better.


Why do EU energy labels keep changing?

In recent years, the EU energy label has come under fire for confusing customers with its varying scales. With the introduction of the A+ – A+++ scale, consumer groups have argued that many products are able to keep the A+ rating, without being that efficient.

The initial scale introduced was from A – G. This pushed manufacturers to create more energy efficient products. In 2006, 66% of all fridges and washing machines sold, had a class A rating. But in 2017, 90% of those products were then rated A+ and above*.

This has led to the difference between the classes becoming less obvious as more energy efficient products are released.

Therefore, the EU plans to re-scale the categories in 2021 for certain white goods. Fridges, dishwashers, washing machines, TVs and lamps will all return to the original A – G scale. As it was found to be best understood by customers.

After the re-scaling, a product with a rating of A+++ could become B rated. Leaving manufacturers room to innovate products to achieve an A rating.

For other white goods like ovens, tumble dryers, hoovers etc, the system won’t be re-scaled until 2025. So it could be another couple of years of confusion until the scales level out.

Until then, it’s good to understand the current energy labels for common appliances in your home.


How to read energy labels in your home


Washing machines

Energy ratings can vary from one model to another. Since 2014, washing machines are rated from A – A+++, with models before 2014 rated from D to A+++. (Confusing, isn’t it?)

Each energy label will include two ratings, one for total energy consumption and one for the efficiency of the spin cycle.

To improve your washing machine’s efficiency without upgrading, turn down the temperature you wash at and only put it on once it’s full. If your washing machine has an eco-setting, this will also help improve its efficiency.

Below is an example washing machine energy label with an explanation of what each section shows:



Tumble dryers

As a rule, any appliance that heats something like a tumble dryer or a kettle takes more energy to run.

A dryer with a rating of A or above costs on average £50-60** to run per year. Whereas a dryer with a rating of C could cost you around £100 a year instead. So, if you always use your dryer, it might be worth checking its energy label.

The energy label is like that of a washing machine but includes extra information such as:



Fridges and Freezers

Fridges and freezers are switched on 24/7, so it makes sense to make sure they are efficient as possible. Since 2012, all new fridges and freezers must have a minimum rating of A+ – with older models likely to be rated from A-G.

Fridge and freezer ratings vary from other white goods as they keep things cold. The energy efficiency rating is based on their size, rather than its kWh consumption.

This means that the bigger the fridge, the more it will cost to run. If you have a smaller family and need to replace your fridge or freezer, it could be more efficient to buy a smaller B rated model rather than a large A rated one.




Dishwashers can be cheaper to run than most people expect. This is because whether you should hand wash dishes or use a dishwasher to save energy depends on varying factors.

For a solo person or small family, it might be more practical to wash dishes by hand or buy a smaller dishwasher.

If you have a large family (or relish hosting dinner parties) a dishwasher can be useful. If you load it correctly and use any eco settings it has, costs can be kept low.

All new dishwashers have a standard A rated cleaning performance, so this is no longer on the energy label. But, the label does include other information like:



Ovens / cookers

Gas ovens and electric ovens both come with separate energy efficiency labels. Whilst gas ovens are slightly cheaper to run (you save £20 a year***), electric ovens are often preferred.

Only the oven itself (and if it has a range hood) will have an energy label. Hobs are not covered by the label, so it can be difficult to tell how efficient they are.




There are three different types of hoovers; general purpose, hard floor and carpet. Each come with their own energy rating.

‘A’ rated hoovers are highly efficient and high performance, so can greatly reduce cleaning time. But it’s worth noting that when it comes to hoovers, a higher kWh doesn’t always mean more suction power. There are a lot of factors that affect this.

The most useful rating on the hoovers energy label is how much dust is re-emitted into the air (no.2 on the image below). If you are sensitive or suffer from allergies and breathing problems, look for a model with an A rating.



Key things to remember about energy efficiency

  • When buying energy efficient white goods, always look for the energy label and consider the size of the appliance you need. For large white goods like dishwashers and fridges, a small household might only need a small machine. It’s better to buy a smaller B rated machine than an A rated one that you don’t use efficiently.
  • Appliances that heat things up or keep things cold always need more energy to run. Therefore, it’s worth looking into energy efficient models with ratings of A or higher.
  • Most EU energy labels include the sound level emitted by the product. The following list gives you a rough idea about the decibel scale in comparison to everyday sounds:

0dB = Silence

20dB = Whispering

40dB = Quiet library

60dB = Normal conversation

70dB = Shower, radio

80dB = Food blender, alarm clock




Now that you’re aware of Energy Labels, have you tried these weird and wacky ways to save money on your energy bills? They could just help you save some cash. 

Isabelle Burns
Isabelle Burns

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