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Citizens Advice response to BEIS’ call for evidence on energy-related products

4 September 2020

Citizens Advice response to BEIS’ call for evidence on energy-related products [ 160 kb]

Citizens Advice welcome the opportunity to respond to BEIS’ call for evidence on energy related products. We recognise that improving the standards of energy-using products will be an important part of ensuring that the Government meets its target of net zero emissions by 2050. 

Although the UK will be able to set its own products policy after the Brexit transition period ends on 31st December, the EU will remain our main trading partner. Therefore, to ensure that consumers are protected in a consistent and easy to understand way, it is important that any new Ecodesign improvements are coordinated with parallel efforts in the EU, and that the UK keeps in step with EU standards. 

Equally, coordination will be needed across Government departments as well as alongside EU initiatives. This will be crucial in the case of new Ecodesign proposals on smart appliances, to ensure they are compatible with a host of other new measures on areas such as interoperability, distribution networks, and cyber security. 

Public understanding will be crucial to realise the benefits of improved product standards. For newer products, such as heat pumps, performance benefits will depend on people understanding the correct way to use the technology in their homes. It will also be important that people are able to estimate the lifetime costs of energy products in a meaningful way, particularly as more energy products and smart appliances come to market. 

It is essential that the Government develops robust policy that is based on evidence about how people understand, engage with and use these products.  Any labelling should be trialled and tested in advance, with close monitoring to ensure it is effective. Supporting people to make informed choices (and putting protections in place if things go wrong)  will be essential, and will ultimately influence whether people feel empowered to engage with new technologies.

As the call for evidence covers a wide range of energy-related products, we have focused below on those which are relevant to Citizens Advice’s specific expertise, and where our research provides the greatest insight. Our response begins by discussing the importance of related work conducted at the EU level.