Many of the best vacuum cleaners for sale in the UK will be banned as a result of new EU energy efficiency rules that come into force next month, consumer group Which? has warned.
Households wanting to buy a powerful model have been told they will need to “act quickly” before they sell out, as from September 1 companies will be prohibited from manufacturing or importing any vacuums with motors above 1,600 watts.
The European Commission claims that its new rules, which are intended to help tackle climate change by cutting Europe’s energy usage, will mean consumers “get better vacuum cleaners than ever before”.
However, Which? said that many of the models that its reviewers rate as the best on the market will fall foul of the rules.
Of seven “best buy” ratings awarded by its vacuum cleaner reviewers since January 2013, five of them have motors of more than 1,600 watts, it said.
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“If you’re in the market for a powerful vacuum, you should act quickly, before all of the models currently available sell out,” the consumer group says in the latest issue of its magazine.
“A Best Buy 2,200w vac costs around £27 a year to run in electricity – only around £8 more than the best-scoring 1,600w we’ve tested.”
Which? said the full list of endangered “best buy” vacuums was available only to its subscribers.
However one such product is the Miele s8330 model, which has a 2,200 watt motor and advertises its “best buy” credentials on its manufacturer’s website.
The EU ban on powerful vacuum cleaners follows the introduction of rules to ban traditional light bulbs, which saw consumers rushing to stock up before they became obsolete.
Consumers complained that energy-efficient replacements bulbs were more expensive and took too long to warm up.
Brussels has denied that its latest rules on vacuums will affect consumers’ ability to clean their homes properly.
In a blog last year, European Commission spokesman Marlene Holzner wrote: “Vacuum cleaners will use less energy for the same performance – how much dust they pick up. This will help consumers to save money and make Europe as a whole use less energy.”
The average power of a vacuum on the market in Europe at the time was 1,800 watts. This will have to be halved within the next three years, as the limit of 1,600 watts will be reduced to just 900 watts from September 2017.
“The amount of watt does not automatically indicate how well a vacuum cleaner will clean. The amount of watt indicates how much electrical power is used by the engine,” Ms Holzer wrote. “The important question is: How efficient is this electrical power translated into picking-up dust?”
The EU rules will require vacuum cleaners to be sold with a new system of labels which will show their cleaning performance and requires a minimum level of performance.
Which? warns that the labels are “self-regulating, meaning that manufacturers will create their own labels” and it is unclear whether there is any independent third party checking up that consumers are getting correct information.
The ratings are also based on vacuums being tested brand new, so “don’t take into account any loss of suction as the container fills”.
Early indications showed “manufacturers that traditionally don’t do well in our tests have had ‘A’ ratings across the board” in the new self-regulated EU labels “while those that consistently do well haven’t scored as highly”, Which? said.
Ms Holzer said: “As a result of the new EU ecodesign and labelling regulations, consumers will also get better vacuum cleaners. In the past there was no legislation on vacuum cleaners and companies could sell poorly performing vacuum cleaners.
“Now, vacuum cleaners that use a lot of energy, that pick up dust poorly, emit too much dust at the exhaust of the vacuum cleaner, are noisy or break down pre-maturely will not be allowed on the market anymore. This means a better cleaning experience and less time and money spent on vacuum cleaning.”