Apart from the user's behaviour, there are two complementary ways of reducing the energy consumed by products: labelling to raise awareness of consumers on the real energy use in order to influence their buying decisions (such as labelling schemes for domestic appliances), and energy efficiency requirements imposed to products from the early stage on the design phase.
The production, distribution, use and end-of-life management of energy-using products (EuPs) is associated with a considerable number of important impacts on the environment, namely the consequences of energy consumption, consumption of other materials/resources, waste generation and release of hazardous substances to the environment. It is estimated that over 80% of all product-related environmental impacts are determined during the design phase of a product. Against this background, Eco-design aims to improve the environmental performance of products throughout the life-cycle by systematic integration of environmental aspects at a very early stage in the product design.
The Council and the European Parliament therefore adopted a Commission proposal for a Directive on establishing a framework for setting Eco-design requirements (such as energy efficiency requirements) for all energy using products in the residential, tertiary and industrial sectors. Coherent EU-wide rules for eco-design will ensure that disparities among national regulations do not become obstacles to intra-EU trade. The directive does not introduce directly binding requirements for specific products, but does define conditions and criteria for setting requirements regarding environmentally relevant product characteristics (such as energy consumption) and allows them to be improved quickly and efficiently. It will be followed by implementing measures which will establish the eco-design requirements. In principle, the Directive applies to all energy using products (except vehicles for transport) and covers all energy sources.