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New policy for vacuum cleaners sweeps the EU

Consumers will no longer be able to buy high-powered vacuum cleaners in September. EU policymakers estimate the measures will save families not only energy, but also billions of euros, while keeping their houses clean.

Vacuum cleaners are now joining their other energy efficient counterparts, like refrigerators and washing machines, by requiring energy labels for the first time.

Starting September, European manufacturers can no longer make or import vacuums with motors consuming more than 1,600 watts. The current average on the market is about 1,800 watts.

In 2017 that limit will further drop to 900 watts.

The new labels give vacuum cleaners A to G ratings not only for energy use, but also for dust emissions and cleaning performance on carpets and hard floors.

EU policymakers insisted the lower number of watts will not translate to longer cleaning times. Instead, the label sets minimum standards for EU vacuums and clears the market of power-guzzling appliances, they said.

The number one priority for the new machines is performance, or the vacuum's ability to pick up dust, they added.

"Wattage has become a marketing tool, steering the market towards more power-hungry appliances," said Marlene Holzner, spokesperson for the European Commission (EC), in the

commission's blog

. "The side-effect is that a lot of electrical power is wasted and not turned into sucking power, whereas the consumer is still paying for that wasted electricity."

According to the EC, the new rules will save 19 terawatt-hours every year by 2020. That amounts to the electricity produced by more than four nuclear power plants for 5.5 million households.

For the EC, this is one more step toward protecting the environment.

"Of course, measures on vacuum cleaners alone will not tackle

climate change

," EC's Holzner said. "However, if we consider all products together for which minimum efficiency requirements exist in the EU, the overall savings achieve up to a third of the EU's energy saving target for 2020."

Not all enthused

Some consumer groups, however, urge consumers to stock up on powerful vacuum cleaners while they are still being sold.

"If you're in the market for a powerful vacuum, you should act quickly, before all of the models currently available sell out,"

British consumer group Which?

wrote in the latest issue of its magazine.

But the EC maintains the European industry as a whole welcomes the regulation, as it makes their products more competitive in the global market.

el/uhe (dpa, EC)

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