The ErP Directive: simplification and comparability?

The two-year transition phase of the ErP Directive ended in September 2015. The goal of the directive is to increase the energy efficiency of energy-related products by specifying binding minimum efficiency standards. In this connection, an EU-wide labelling requirement for heating devices is being introduced. Manufacturers, sanitary/heating/air conditioning specialists and facilities planners are obligated to support introduction and implementation of the directive. Vaillant is a supportive and competent partner in this process by making the ErP issue understandable and available for everyone and by supplying the right solution for different use cases. Christian Rosier, project director and ErP specialist at Vaillant explains how the new directive affects architects and planners.

The ErP is a subject of increasing interest. What exactly does that entail?

The ErP Directive on “Energy-related Products”, issued by the European Commission, went into effect as of September 2015. The ErP Directive defines, for example, the minimum efficiency of energy-consuming products. Products marketed after the effective date of the directive must fulfil this requirement. The basis for the ErP Directive is the goal of the European Union to reduce CO2 emissions. The directive is supposed to promote the production and marketing of highly energy-efficient appliances. An energy label affixed to appliances also creates transparency for the end consumer with respect to the energy values.

Will the ErP Directive change the market?

Some appliances, especially heating units, will not be able to fulfil the minimum efficiency requirements and will therefore no longer be manufactured starting September 2015. This fact will significantly speed up the change from conventional heating to fuel cell technology.

Which products are affected by the directive?

Currently, the relevant product categories, known as LOTs, are room heaters (LOT 1), water heaters (LOT 2) and storage water heaters (likewise LOT 2). Since 2013 the regulations already apply to air conditioners and pumps. As of September 2015, it will also apply to room heaters, water heaters and storage water heaters. The appliances include wall-mounted and free-standing heaters operated with gas, oil or electricity, in addition to heat pumps and CHP units. Gas or electric continuous-flow water heaters are also affected. The label applies to room heaters and water heaters with an output up to 70 kW and storage water heaters with a capacity up to 500 litres. Other product categories will be added in the future, for example ventilation appliances or solid fuel heaters, probably starting in 2016

Are existing appliances also affected?

No, the regulations apply only to appliances and systems first marketed after September 2015.

Especially heating and cooling systems are subject to national and climate-specific criteria? Does categorisation by means of a standardised system even make sense?

The specific technical values are determined for three different climatic zones (cold, mild and hot climatic conditions). These climatic zones are visualised on the energy label and the evaluation of the product is based on this. The specific values on the label and in the technical data are determined for pre-defined reference conditions to enable a comparison. Nevertheless, the values can only provide an approximate indication of the actual energy efficiency at the location where the appliance is installed.

To what extent will architects and planners be affected by the directive?

The label will by no means be a substitute for expert consulting and planning services. Architects and technical planners are involved especially in the planning of composite systems, which must be calculated and documented in the future on the basis of efficiency classes. These composite systems, consisting of several single products such as a gas heater, a storage tank and a solar installation, are subject to special labelling requirements. Suppliers of such composite systems – in many cases wholesalers or the skilled tradesmen themselves – must issue a system label, including the necessary calculations.

Who is responsible for providing and verifying the data?

All relevant data must be provided by the manufacturers in the form of energy labels and product data sheets. Implementation of the ErP Directive is the responsibility of the market supervisory authorities. In Germany, this task was delegated to the states, which are responsible for the operative design of their control function.

Will the directive affect freedom in planning and design?

The ErP Directive applies to the efficiency of single appliances. In general, it will therefore still be possible to implement all combinations of systems that are possible today. Products that can no longer be marketed as a result of the ErP Directive, of course, can then no longer be part of a system.

The directive appears to be rather complex. Will the specifications nevertheless simplify planning and the decision to buy a product?

Yes and no. Yes, because most of the complexity must be dealt with by the manufacturers. The ultimate decision to buy will be simplified by the additional information and increased transparency. And no, because especially in the case of heating systems, this simplification and supposed comparability of different technologies involves the risk of misinterpretation: it is not always the case that the product with the best efficiency class according to the energy label is also the best choice for the end customer. The specific installation conditions must always be taken into account. The advice of the technical planner is still indispensable!

About the interviewee:

Dr. Christian Rosier is a project manager at Vaillant. After completing his degree in mechanical engineering at the RWTH Aachen he held different positions in industrial and consulting enterprises before he joined Vaillant in 2011.