These colorful EU energy labels can be found on nearly every electric device and are intended to guide the consumer when they shop. However, false or misleading information in the past has made consumers doubtful. To win back the trust of consumers and to uncover and prevent false information related to energy efficiency in the Ecodesign Directive and for the EU energy label, the EU started the "ANTICSS (Anti-Circumvention of Standards for Better Market Surveillance)" project under the leadership of the German Öko-Institut (Institute for Applied Ecology) and has brought along the VDE Institute on board as a partner. "Our job is to investigate possibilities for incorrect measurements and false information related to energy efficiency and to look for potential loopholes in the regulations and their measurement standards", explains Wolfgang Niedziella, Managing Director of the VDE Institute. To that end, the VDE Experts perform the appropriate reference measurements.
The search for measurement circumventions
The device groups and products that the VDE Institute analyses on behalf of ANTICSS ranges from household appliances to lights and even video and audio devices (consumer electronics). Experts focus on networked or smart devices and look for special software that is used to possibly circumvent measurement standards. To verify the compiled case studies, the VDE Institute performs independent tests on the selected devices. During testing, the testing engineers determine if the circumvention of measurement regulations can possibly alter energy consumption. "If necessary, we develop alternative measurement procedures in order to rule out potential measurement circumventions", says Niedziella.
Manipulation attempts are reported to the market surveillance authorities
The test results provide a basis for recommendations for market surveillance authorities and test laboratories. If the research and measurements show clear and intentional attempts at manipulation, then the cases are reported to the market surveillance authorities.
In addition, ANTICSS uses its research results to develop recommendations for actions for political decision-makers and standards organizations. All in all, the activities of ANTICSS aim to increase the trust of manufacturers and consumers in the Ecodesign and Energy Label Directives.
The ANTICSS project team (ANTICSS: Anti-Circumvention of Standards for Better Market Surveillance) is comprised of 19 organizations from eight EU member states. These include research institutes, market surveillance authorities, energy agencies, a standardization organization along with one university, environmental NGOs, and independent test laboratories such as the VDE Institute.