EU Energy-wasteful Vacuum Cleaner Law Backfires

Written by Dr Klaus L.E. Kaiser

New European Union (EU) law intending to be ‘green’ by limiting electricity power usage in domestic vacuum cleaners turns out to be more wasteful in energy. old vacuumScientists and consumers baffled by Brussels lawmakers’ faux pas.

North Americans, don’t be afraid, your old vacuum cleaner is just fine but if you feel like buying a new one anyway, no problem either.

If you live across the pond in the EU, however, you might just want to hang on to your old vac. The good bureaucrats of the EU have prescribed a new ‘greener’ standard: new vacuum cleaners have been limited to a maximum energy use of 1.6 kW (as of September 2014) and 0.9 kW as of September 2017. That’s a major change in energy consumption, mandated by EU law; needless to say, some manufacturers are not happy and the consumers—they’ll have to find out.

What’s the Issue?

Though I barely know such household gadgets, I think most vacs sold on this continent are using motors rated in the 1.5+ kW range, well above the 2017 limit mandated by the EU standard. I hazard the guess that few of the bureaucrats who wrote the new regulations ever use any vacuum themselves. After all, they are there to make regulations, not to live by them.

If they did use a vac, they might just realize that working twice as long with a 0.9 kW “energy-saving” implement compared to a 1.5 kW system for half the time does not save any energy at all. In fact, it consumes more energy (consumed energy = power x time). 

What’s even more disturbing is the way the EU tests for compliance.

Energy Compliance Testing

When you buy a new vacuum, it certainly is clean and empty. As soon as you use it, dust and assorted fibers (and perhaps even some kid’s toys) accumulate inside. That ball of “fur” tends to reduce the suction considerably. At the very latest, when the thing starts spitting out more dust at the other end than it sucks in at the front, you know it’s time to replace the bag.

But how do you measure a vac’s efficiency and energy consumption if it does not have the traditional design with a paper bag? Precisely that question was now before the European Court. The Dyson company tried to have the court accept that measuring the vac’s energy consumption only with an empty dust container does not provide a true measure of its actual electricity use. Unfortunately for Dyson, the court decided otherwise. 

The reason for the court’s decision is reported as “tests with full containers are not reliable, exact and reproducible.”

I wonder how the learned judges arrived at that conclusion.

Dr. Klaus L.E. Kaiser — Bio and Archives