The new regulations implement one of a series of EC Directives which are intended to encourage consumers to buy energy-efficient household appliances. Already covered are refrigerators and freezers, washing machines and tumble driers.
Like the rules in force for these appliances, the 1996 Directive on washer-driers (ENDS Report 261, p 47 ) requires them to be placed in one of seven energy efficiency categories. The rating must be displayed on a label affixed to the machine or, where machines are on sale but not on display in shops, provided in an information notice to consumers. Similar requirements apply to mail-order catalogues. Other information on water consumption, noise emissions and operating efficiency must also be provided.
The UK regulations come into force on 1 August, although their requirements do not apply until 1 February 1998. Manufacturers and other suppliers will be responsible for providing energy labels and information notices and for the authenticity of the information provided, while dealers will have a duty to attach labels to appliances and to make information notices available to potential purchasers.
Non-compliance with these requirements is a criminal offence punishable by a fine. However, in line with the previous Government's deregulation initiative, the regulations' enforcement provisions require officers to serve a notice suggesting remedial action where a breach of the rules is detected and, in cases where enforcement action is contemplated, a further notice allowing the person concerned at least 14 days to make representations to the authority.