A British consumer group is warning households to rush out and buy powerful vacuum cleaners before they’re banned throughout Europe.
As of Sept. 1, manufacturers will be forbidden to make or import any vacuum machines with motors stronger than 1,600 watts.
The rules, set forth by the European Commission, are aimed at slowing climate change by cutting Europe’s energy use. The EC contends the new standards mean European consumers will “get better vacuum cleaners than ever before.”
The consumer rating agency Which? says that doesn’t make sense. Five of their seven highest rated vacuums have motors higher than 1,600 watts.
“If you’re in the market for a powerful vacuum, you should act quickly, before all of the models currently available sell out,” the Which? magazine says in its latest issue. “A Best Buy, 2,200-watt cleaner uses around £27 ($44) worth of electricity each year, about £8 ($13.27) more than the best-scoring 1,600[-watt machine] we’ve tested.”
The vacuum cleaner ban echoes an earlier ban on traditional light bulbs. Consumers complained then that the replacements were costlier and took too long to reach maximum brightness.
But Brussels argues that the new rules don’t affect the performance of light bulbs or vacuums. “Vacuum cleaners will use less energy for the same performance – how much dust they pick up,” European Commission spokesman Marlene Holzner wrote last year, defending the change. “This will help consumers to save money and make Europe as a whole use less energy.”
The average vacuum for sale in Europe has an 1,800-watt motor. This will have to be halved within the next three years, as the limit of 1,600 watts will be reduced to just 900 watts in September 2017.
But, “[t]he amount of watt does not automatically indicate how well a vacuum cleaner will clean. The amount of watt indicates how much electrical power is used by the engine,” Holzner wrote. “The important question is: How efficient is this electrical power translated into picking-up dust?”
Under the new rules, vacuum cleaners will be given a rating from A to G based on their performance on hard floors, carpets, and how much dust is emitted during operation.
But the Dyson group of Britain, which makes several popular, powerful vacuum cleaners, is challenging this criteria and has applied for a judicial review of the EU directive.
It argues that the proposed performance metrics don’t include evaluating vacuums when there is already dirt inside – what Dyson calls “dust-loaded.”
Dyson, whose vacuums don’t use bags, says 126 million bags and filters from new vacuum cleaners end up in landfills across the EU every year, yet the new labeling system does not reflect their impact on the environment.
By Andy Tully of Oilprice.com
Andy Tully is a veteran news reporter who is now the news editor for Oilprice.com