VHK : : research engineers

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Professional products are believed to be 'better' than household products. There is this concept of professional buyers being rational decision makers carefully weighing the higher purchase price against lower running costs. As a result, many people think that professional products don't need energy efficiency legislation and that the market will 'regulate itself'.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of examples to the opposite. How can it be explained that household refrigeration appliances use 4 times (!) less energy per litre of storage volume than their professional counterparts? Surely, energy costs for food preservation in restaurants and shops must be a significant part of the energy bill. Why is there no pressure from management to do something about that? Why are the producers of these professional appliances not competing on energy efficiency?

European Energy Label

In 1995, household refrigerators and freezers were the first product group for which 'Brussels' prescribed a mandatory Energy Label. The measure for energy efficiency, an index with a base value of 100, was derived from the average efficiency of fridges and freezers in 1992. Today, in 2016, this index is lower than 40. This means an energy efficiency improvement of 60% over what was believed to be a technically 'mature' and efficient product in 1992.

VHK has been involved —since 1998— in several intermediate updates of the measures for household refrigerators. Most recently, in March 2016, VHK concluded a comprehensive review study on the subject, which involved the development —with industry experts and other stakeholders— of a transparent technical model. This model indicated that average efficiency could still be further improved by another 35-40% at acceptable costs to the end-user.

In contrast, in the field of professional refrigeration there were no legislative measures until recently. Very little happened in terms of energy efficiency improvement. Only now that the professional refrigeration appliances recently have been included in new Ecodesign and Energy Labelling measures it turns out that giant leaps in efficiency improvement are indeed possible and economically sensible. Hopefully now the market will invest and will follow the same route as household products.

Similar inertia can be seen in the field of industrial components like motors, fans and pumps. The inertia does not come from the R&D department of the component industry, but from the so-called 'rational' buyers of these components. They are usually firmly set in their ways and highly reluctant to give up age-old beliefs and habits. Without the help of legislation it is extremely difficult to convince these buyers to change.

 

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