ErP Directive - EU-wide labelling for heating devices

As one of the major EU projects the ErP Directive has the potential to change the face of the heating technology sector. Initial categories for heating technology products, known as LOTs, have been confirmed by the European Parliament and the Council. The corresponding implementing regulations now have to be implemented by September 2015. The consequences are far-reaching – not only for the manufacturers and wholesalers, but also for facilities planners and sanitary/heating/air conditioning specialists: starting September 2015 room heaters (with a boiler, CHP unit or heat pump), multi-heaters and composite systems consisting of room and multi-heaters, temperature control devices and thermal solar installations must be marked with a label indicating the seasonal room heating energy efficiency and the water heating energy efficiency on the basis of classes. But the label is by no means a substitute for expert consulting and planning services. Since composite systems consist of individual systems, the skilled tradesman must issue the efficiency label for these systems (with the support of the manufacturer). For facilities planners the label will be relevant especially for the coordination with the building owner, as well as for planning, tenders and the acceptance inspection. Due to continuation of the program in the year 2017 (drinking water heating) and 2019 (heat generators), technology classified in the lowest energy class in 2015 will be indirectly prohibited.

The goal of the ErP Directive is to increase the energy efficiency of energy-related products by specifying binding minimum efficiency standards. In this connection, an EU-wide requirement for efficiency labels on heating appliances will be introduced – in the implementing regulations for heat generators and drinking water heaters they are referred to as labels. The ErP Directive has already been in effect for some time for household and electrical appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers, refrigerators and, more recently, televisions. The LOTs for air conditioners with a cooling capacity up to 12 kW and for wet-rotor circulating pumps are already in force.

In addition to defining minimum efficiency standards the ErP Directive is also supposed to allow a comparison of energy-related products used for the same purpose – namely through classification in energy classes as indicated on defined labels. Since the first ErP Directive (formerly EuP: Energy-using Products) was issued, eight years have passed. During this time many controversial discussions have taken place to find a compromise in the implementing regulations between political efforts to fulfil the EU climate goals and the technical necessities and to offer an individual high-efficiency solution for heat generation for all object-specific needs.

Validity of the labels

The stipulations of the ErP Directive are valid as of September 2013, with a transition period of two years until September 2015. During this time the market players must adapt to the new regulations and implement the necessary changes. To achieve this, the manufacturers must provide extensive information about the products. For the following four years the label for heat generators includes efficiency classes from A++ to G (Label I). Starting in September 2019, efficiency class A+++ will be added and the worst class G (Label II) will be eliminated. For drinking water heaters Label I ranges from A to G and Label II will range from A+ to F starting in September 2017.

Structure in LOT 1 heat generators

LOT 1 includes the core products of heating technology: conventional heaters and boilers, CHP units and heat pumps. Fundamentally, a difference is made between single appliances and systems. For example, a gas heating boiler and a separate control unit could already be considered a system. The goal: all products are supposed to be able to be compared as a result of the efficiency classification. The regulations include an implementation regulation for the energy label and also for defining requirements for the environmentally safe design of the products. Up to a heating capacity of 70 kW all single products and also systems consisting of multiple appliances must have a defined label.

Heating appliances with a heating capacity of more than 70 kW and less than 400 kW must likewise fulfil minimum efficiency criteria, but require no label. This is because the primary purpose of the energy label is to provide end customers orientation and a basis for comparison. For heating systems with a heating capacity of 70 kW or more, a technical planner is generally consulted, who due to the technical complexity of the heating system must consider additional factors as a basis for the decision.

Label for composite systems

Certain system components can increase the rating of a system through bonus points. For example, a standard system combination consisting of a gas heater with a control unit, a multi-function storage tank and solar collectors receives a common efficiency rating. The room heater and storage tank each have their own efficiency label, while the solar collectors and control unit can improve the overall efficiency class of the system through bonus points. To offer a simplified overview, the ErP Directive defines that a system label (package label for composite systems) has to be created. This provides a common label indicating the individual efficiency ratings of the products. For frequently used system combinations, such as a gas/oil-heating boiler in combination with a drinking water heat pump, the directive does not (yet) provide a label. In this case, the labels of the individual appliances apply, without a rating for the overall efficiency.