Customers confused by new energy labels, say kitchen retailers

Retailers have found that not only are consumers confused by the new energy labels, but very few know about them or even care.

The energy label system in the UK changed from March 1. The revised classification is rated from A to G, with most of the appliances that were previously rated A+ to A+++ falling between F and C.

We asked the kbbreview100, our think-tank of KBB retailers across the UK, how they felt about the new system and what their customers thought of it.

John Pelosi, director of Caldicot Kitchen and Bathroom Centre in south Wales, said he could see the point of the new system, but added that it had caused confusion among his more knowledgeable clients, who demand high-rated appliances. He said: “Given that so many energy labels had reached A++/A+++, the old system had become a bit meaningless, so the ‘recalibration’ does make sense.

“However, for products to go from A/A+ etc down to G is a bit ridiculous and is proving confusing for those few customers who actually care about such things – which, quite frankly, is damned few.”

According to Pelosi, consumers also remain largely unaware of the changes to the labelling system.

“The rollout into the consumer arena has been poor ,” he said. “With low levels of awareness and many (wrongly) thinking they are buying energy-inefficient products.

“But, quite frankly, most customers just want to know that their appliances are broadly fairly efficient from a decent brand that should last a sensible length of time, rather than obsessing about all the eco-nonsense that is being force-fed to us right now. Long may that continue.”

Ian Coghill, director at Riddle and Coghill in Edinburgh, agrees that consumer confusion is an issue. He said: “I don’t think changing it will make any difference to the majority of consumers and it just adds another layer of confusion. No one ever asks about energy efficiency or water consumption – occasionally noise. We try to point it out when specifying, but with so many it all comes down to price.”

Russell Buckley, managing director of Stuart Henry Kitchens in Merseyside, said that customers rarely ask him about energy ratings or labels. He said: “In 36 years, I have only been asked a couple of times about energy labels, which would suggest either ignorance or apathy.”

Our kbbreview100 respondents thought that few appliance manufacturers had given them sufficient information about the change. John Martin, a designer at Regal Kitchens in Essex, said that the new labels are “confusing and unnecessary” and that he was not well enough informed by his suppliers about the change.

According to Pelosi, the delay could be down to the fact that many reps are still not back out on the road yet and have, therefore, not been able to visit showrooms and inform them about the new system. On the other hand, BSH was named directly as one company that had informed retailers about the new energy labels as part of its online courses. 

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