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Energy Efficiency Labels to Take Effect

China plans to label household air-conditioners and refrigerators starting Tuesday, according to the China National Institute of Standardization (CNIS).

The institute is authorized to collect information on energy efficiency required for the labels.

The labels, which provide energy consumption and efficiency information of each product, aim at improving the public awareness of energy conservation and encourage home appliance manufacturers to produce energy-saving products, according to Lin Ling, a senior engineer in charge of the program from CNIS.

The labels will be classified into five categories to indicate different levels of energy efficiency. Products below the fifth level will be banned from the market.

Household refrigerators and air-conditioner manufacturers are now submitting energy efficiency information of their products to the institute.

More than 20 brands in the household air-conditioner and refrigerator market including Midea, Electrolux and Haier have completed their submissions.

Sources from the institute predicted tagging energy labels on the two home appliances is expected to save 18 billion kilowatt hours of electricity by 2010, and 87 billion kilowatt hours by 2020.

Cost for high energy-efficient products will be high, however, and will likely result in a price jump for these products.

"If an air-conditioner manufacturer upgrades its product from level three to level one in accordance with the energy label standard, a cost increase of 300 yuan (US$36) to 500 yuan (US$60) for each product is expected," said Cheng Jianhong, senior engineer from CNIS, "and consumers will have to afford a 700 yuan (US$84) to 1,000 yuan (US$120) price hike if they want to buy the products."

"But the averaged price level of home appliances will remain stable," added Cheng.

Lin said that in order to ensure the credibility of the information on the energy label, a set of punishment measures will be adopted for any irresponsible information submitted.

"For example, if the submitted information is found not to reflect the truth, the manufacturers concerned are supposed to be heavily fined," said Lin.

State-level administrations including the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (GAQSIQ), the Certification and Accreditation Administration, will manage the energy label system, and local government bodies are to supervise its implementation in the production and marketing chains, said program organizers.

NDRC and the State quality supervision body jointly issued a management document on the energy efficiency label system in August, which marked the establishment of the system in the country.

The state authorized CNIS to collect product energy efficiency information last month.

According to sources from the institute, household air-conditioners and refrigerators were selected as the first batch of products to implement the energy label system, because they are widely used in China and their manufacturing is relatively standardized.

The next batch of products to be labeled are expected to include TV sets, electric fans and electric irons, according to engineers in charge of the program.

"We are now working on the energy efficiency standards to regulate the energy information for those products," said Lin.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), up to 37 countries and regions including the European Union (EU), the United States and Brazil, have adopted the energy label system to effectively encourage the use of energy-saving products.

In EU, energy consumption of household refrigerators had plummeted by 16 per cent from 1992 to 2000, and the figure is expected to reach 21 per cent by 2020 since the implementation of the energy label system, said statistics from the standardization institute.

(China Daily February 26, 2005)

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