The European Union newly requires that new networked appliances such as internet-connected TVs or modems must switch themselves off when not in use. This is a response to the fact that many gadgets are online basically non-stop, using between 25 and 100 watts of energy even during the night. New gadgets being sold from thursday 1 January will automatically switch to sleep mode and use only a trickle of energy when not in use. The EU Commission believes that this decision will save an average household about 40 euros a year. This change is part of the block’s Ecodesign initiative, which aims to decrease costs, boost competitiveness, and reduce carbon emissions.
In addition to the introduction of the automatic sleep mode, the new legislation now demands also better energy labels on online products and energy ratings on appliances such as gas ovens. The Commission estimates that the best category oven would normally save about 180 euros over its lifetime compared with the worst category. Critics however point out that such regulations – which recently included a ban on the sale of popular high-wattage vacuum cleaners – are disabling consumer choice. It has been alleged that producers deliberately increased the wattage of some vacuums to make them seem more appealing to consumers – despite the fact that the machines created more heat and noise, rather than more suction.
Unluckily for coffee fans, the new EU legislation includes also coffee machines. Thus, drip filter machines with non-insulated jugs power must switch off 40 minutes after the end of the last cycle. However, similar domestic coffee machines with insulated jugs must power down after five minutes. The Commission says that automatic stand-by will decrease energy consumption by almost 75 terawatt-hours (TWh) without affecting product performance.