Selling the green message

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Convincing customers to buy green is one the biggest challenges for both manufacturers and retailers. At a time when consumer confidence is at rock bottom the eco message has to have an economic lining. Anna Ryland reports.

Going green is probably one of the most costly strategies that companies follow at present. It is however the only way forward.

The green agenda

Green consumerism, which significantly evolved since 1987 when The Body Shop won the UK Company of the Year Business Enterprise Award, continues to have a very strong impact on the society.

“Green consumerism creates a balance between the expectations of consumer behaviour and businesses’ profit motives – within the orbit of environmental protection. It increasingly calls upon us to look at the entire life cycle of a consumer’s purchases – because a consumer does not just buy a product, but also everything that went into its production, and everything that will happen in the future as a result of that product, says Julia Hailes, co-author of The Green Consumer Guide.

Aided by labelling programmes, new standards and a growing number of certification organisations, consumers are voicing their support for products and services that promote sustainable development. They are also calling for more environmentally acceptable choices and more trustworthy information about the social and environmental impact of the products they might buy.

A recent poll of over 4,000 of PURE’s customers showed that 96% of them consider energy saving when buying consumer electronics products. 53% of them said that this was for cost saving and 38% for environment reasons. Over 87% said that an Energy Saving Recommended logo would positively affect their purchasing decision.

Sony quotes recent consumer spending figures which show that despite the downturn, expenditure on green goods and services grew 18% over the past two years. According to the Co-operative Bank’s annual Ethical Consumerism Report, spending on ethical consumer products showed the fastest growth – the market rose by 29% to reach £1.8bn in the UK.

In the Whirlpool Pocket V Planet survey, 57% of UK consumers mentioned that the impact on the environment is an important consideration for them.

Economic realities

And yet the customers’ shopping behaviour is not always consistent with their higher principles and wider concerns. This dichotomy, always present, has been particularly conspicuous during the times of economic downturn when the threat of unemployment, growing cost of living and increasing cost of utility bills determine customers short-term priorities.

An online survey conducted by YouGov in August 2010 involving a total of 5,070 UK energy customers revealed that:

• Two in ten households (20%) are struggling to pay their energy bills.

• Almost three-quarters of customers (19 million households or 73%) have already cut-back on the amount of energy they use or are planning to do in an attempt to cut bills.

• Almost half (48%) of household have already made their home more energy efficient in preparation for winter.

“People are definitely interested in energy efficient appliances but do not want to pay a premium for the privilege of owning them. For the UK consumer, a good reliable brand name still takes precedence over green credentials. This is set to change in the future as the subject goes higher up on the agenda with the arrival of EU regulations on the greening of appliances,” argues Mike Jarrett, sales director of Neff.

Among the challenges, there is the need to raise awareness amongst consumers about energy efficient appliances. “One of the ways other European countries have tackled this is by incentivizing consumers to buy energy efficient products. Spain, Switzerland and Italy, for example, have already got schemes up and running,” reminds Graham Bremer, head of marketing at Electrolux.

A number of leading manufacturers have taken positive steps to raise awareness of ‘green issues’. For example Electrolux has launched two websites that highlight the energy savings to be made by trading up from 10 year old plus energy guzzling appliances to today’s modern and very efficient appliances with www.electrolux.com/ecosavings. The company has also created a website that shows the huge savings in water consumption. Over 7,000 litres per household per year in the UK can be saved by moving from doing the washing up by hand to using a dishwasher (www.electrolux.com/watersavings).

Green television

Consumers are becoming more aware of the potential impact of consumer electronics products – in terms of the immediate power consumption and also during the full lifecycle – from manufacturing through to recycling.

Yet, not many customers know that the introduction of LED used as the BLU (back-light unit) to replace CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent lamp) in conventional LCD TVs has led to a higher level of energy efficiency.

Samsung’s LED range offers 30% energy efficiency savimgs in comparison with conventional TVs. In fact, Samsung TVs also have an Eco Solution mode which includes an Eco Sensor (that automatically optimises TV screen brightness to the in-room lighting) and No-Signal Power Off (turns the TV off when no signal is received).

Philips has a long record of reducing the impact of the company’s operations and its products on the environment. “A current product that highlights the company’s philosophy is the Econova TV – the 2010/11 EISA Green TV award winner – which was designed from start to finish to have the minimum impact on the environment but without compromising on the quality of the set and its performance,” says Tom Henderson, Philips trade marketing manager TV/AVM.

The Econova TV is produced without any PVC and brominated flame retardants and its power consumption is reduced by up to 60% when compared to a conventional LCD TV, allowing the Econova TV to use just 40W of power in operation and 0.015W in standby. The chassis and casing of the Econova is made from 60% recycled aluminium, while the packaging contains no polystyrene buffers or plastic bags – making it 100% recyclable. The sets’ remote control is solar powered removing the need for batteries and the 2-in-1 stand removes the need for separate table top and wall mounts. Finally, the entire TV has been designed to facilitate easy break down into individual components at the end of its life for easy recycling.

The Sony BRAVIA range is a result of years of eco TV innovation. Most BRAVIA TVs feature a Light or Ambient Sensor which automatically adjusts picture brightness to suit room light to minimise energy use. The Energy Saving Switch, introduced in 2009, allows switching a TV to zero power consumption without having to unplug the set at the wall manually. The Presence Sensor, now featuring on the BRAVIA EX700, can detect if the viewer leaves the room and will turn the picture off if they don’t come back. The LX900 is the first TV to feature the Intelligent Presence Sensor with face detection which can recognise when a user is not watching the screen and will dim the picture to save energy.

Sony VAIO laptops feature a variety of eco innovations, ranging from Ambient Light Sensors that save power by automatically adjusting screen brightness to mercury-free white LED backlights that give out no heat and make the screen last longer. The VAIO Z Series features a Dynamic Hybrid Graphics system that selects the most suitable graphics for the way the consumers use their notebook, maximising energy efficiency and battery life. Sony has also designed power adaptors with zero power leakage and a quick charge to ensure the lowest possible charging time. Many VAIO models also come with a ‘display o
ff’ button allowing you to turn off the screen and save energy whilst listening to music on the notebook.

“Sony designers build in eco thinking from the earliest stages of the design process. This includes ensuring products can be manufactured using as many recycled materials as possible, to the development of smaller packaging that takes less space. We have developed a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) model to measure the green credentials of our products at every stage of their development,” explains Sony’s head of public affairs, Adrian Northover-Smith.

“The new EU legislation for consumer electronics comes into effect in November of this year, which although ensures uniform rating of products regardless of the brand also means consumers can effectively compare products based upon their energy efficiency,” reminds Chris Mosley, product manager for AV at Samsung.

Eco-conscious radios

In the past, DAB radios have been considered particularly power hungry and expensive to run. However the leading brands like Roberts or Pure have made significant product improvements to ensure that this is no longer the case.

When Roberts Revival DAB was launched it had a battery life of 30 hours while today it has been extended to 120 hours. “We are continually expanding our ecologic range. Our ecologic products offer unbeatable battery life thanks to our unique advanced circuit design which results in very low power consumption, together with our energy-efficient AC adaptors, saving the consumer money and helping the environment,” says Owen Watters, Roberts sales and marketing director. “We launched the world’s first solar powered digital radio and have since introduced an enhanced version that also offers FM in addition to DAB so people can use it abroad. At the moment our ecologic range consists of 11 models, including the Ecologic 7 that offers the longest battery life around – in excess of 150 hours.”

PURE’s entire product range is ‘EcoPlus’ and the majority of the range has been recommended by the Energy Saving Trust. According to PURE’s recent ‘Make a Difference’ campaign for independent retailers, running four PURE Energy Saving Recommended radios will use less electricity than one low energy light bulb on for the same time.

Recently launched, PURE’s Twilight is a combined dawn simulator and digital radio and the most energy efficient product of its kind on the market thanks to its energy saving LED-based light solution, which provides the same light output as a 45W incandescent light bulb for just 5.4W when the lamp is on.

Green laundry

After heating, domestic appliances consume the largest amount of energy at home.

Home laundry technology is advancing fast in response to consumer demand for energy and water efficiencies. All the recently launched products feature larger capacities (extending up to 9kg), fast washes and customised programmes. Intelligent sensor programmes, such as Gorenje’s UseLogic technology, make a real difference to energy and water efficiency as they use sensors to monitor the purity of the water in each cycle and automatically adjust the level of water for the load. “During the rinsing process, the sensors also monitor the amount of detergent used and automatically take care of additional rinsing if appropriate. This ensures that our washing machines use only the exact amount of water necessary, and not a drop more,” explained Ruth Ferguson, Gorenje’s marketing manger.

Relatively new are laundry dosing systems, such as those present on Whirlpool’s Green Generation or Siemens i-Dos machines, which help to reduce water consumption and prevent overloading of the water system with unused detergent. Its sensors register the amount of laundry and the different types of fabric, the level of soiling and adjust laundry detergent accordingly. “We have calculated that on average, we overdose detergent by around 45% which means over the lifetime of the appliance you could save yourself up to £249,” explains Juliana Saldo, Whirlpool’s brand communications manager.

A very recent development is the Eco Bubble technology, introduced by Samsung, which reduces energy consumption by 30% in comparison with an A rated washer, and provides a powerful wash performance at just 15°C. Its bubble generator dissolves detergent into the water and then injects air, producing a soapy foam cushion seconds after the normal cycle starts. The detergent is so thoroughly dissolved into the water that it doesn’t need as much heat to aid the cleaning process.

Siemens iQ500 washer dryer with air condensation drying is also unique. “While other washer dryers require water for drying, Siemens airCondensation technology uses air alone. This saves up to 49 litres of water compared to our standard washer dryer for each drying cycle and that’s an incredible saving of 24,600 litres of water a year,” says Jane Massey, Siemens brand manager.

Dishwashing

Advances in dishwashing technology have made a huge contribution to the reduction of the household’s carbon footprint and reducing water and energy bills. A modern dishwasher uses as little as 7 litres of water compared to 63 litres for hand washing. Maytag’s new MDW 606 AWG dishwasher uses only 6 litres for 13 place settings. This translates into large savings of energy as 80% of the dishwasher’s energy consumption is used in the process of heating the water.

Sensor-driven programmes, now present on many mid- and high-end models, are the ‘brains’ behind water and energy savings. The dishwasher is now able to detect how dirty the load is and adjust the wash cycle, saving the user time and money on dishwasher detergent, and up to 50% of water.

Siemens’ Zeolith drying technology is also unique. It utilises natural minerals that have the ability to absorb water molecules and release them as energy. “Zeolith science combined with our energy-saving hydro-dry technology help to make our premium dishwashers the most energy efficient in the world – consuming as little as 0.86kWh per cycle,” says Jane Massey.

Cooking

The cooking technologies which make the greatest contribution to energy savings are induction and dual ovens.

A domestic induction hob, pioneered by De Dietrich, is the most energy efficient type of hob on the market, being up to 90% energy efficient against gas which is 55% energy efficient.

GDHA was first to apply induction technology to ovens. “Our most advanced energy efficient product, and still a world and UK first, is the BI60i Belling Eco Induction Oven – a unique built-in appliance that uses induction technology in the main oven cavity. The end result is a built-in oven that can save the consumer up to £75 per year on their electricity bills,” comments Steve Dickson, commercial manager for Belling and Stoves.

The latest oven cleaning systems are also designed to minimise their energy consumption. “Introduced with its Scandium model, Amica’s Aqualytic cleaning system uses up to 90% less energy than its pyrolytic counterparts and the 12-function Scandium also boasts an Eco function, which utilises residual heat inside the oven chamber to regulate energy consumption,” explains Simon Freer, country manager for Amica in the UK.

Fast heating functions on hobs, grills and ovens also make appliances more energy efficient. Powerful convection systems, such as Whirlpool’s Ready2Cook, eliminates the need for pre-heating, saving up to 20% energy.

The need to make energy efficiencies has also influenced the design of hobs.

Smeg’s Marc Newson gas hob range has innovative vertical flame burners that deliver full power to the pan, making them approximately 65% more effective than traditional systems.

Cooling

Efforts to reduce energy consumption in refrigeration are focused around increasing the efficiency of the compressor, developing new insulation materials, and developing accurate cooling
systems and controls.

Individually controlled temperature zones, such as MyZone on Haier’s new AFD626 range, gives customers more flexibility as the temperature of the middle section of this fridge freezer can be independently controlled allowing customers to choose between increased freezer space and increased fridge space. This could also mean that customers no longer need to buy a second fridge.

‘Intelligent’ cooling systems have many benefits. The 6th Sense technology operating Whirlpool Green Generation refrigeration maintains the optimum temperature in the whole appliance and moisture levels minimising the amount of energy used, while ensuring long-lasting food freshness. Meanwhile the VitaFresh technology on Neff’s CoolDeluxe range maintains individual conditions for specific foods – such as up to 95% humidity in vegetable and fruit compartments, while reducing temperature to near zero in the ‘dry’ meat compartments – minimizing food waste.

It is worth remembering that the impending regulatory changes will soon make all cooling appliances greener. “From summer 2011, it will be illegal to sell any B rated cooling appliances in the UK and from 2012, no A rated cooling appliances will be allowed either – the minimum allowed will be A+,” points out Mike Jarrett, sales director of Neff.

Finally

The sophistication of green technologies, the use of recycled materials and ongoing efforts to reduce packaging show the commitment of the leading brands to the green agenda. Many of them accommodate eco thinking from the earliest stages of product development.

This is indicative of the fact that electrical manufacturers are a step ahead of many of UK consumers who in the recessionary times act in accordance with their short-term economic interests. That’s why the green message should be supported by financial facts and figures with which manufacturers should equip their retailers.

“This industry has always been good at delivering innovation however not so good at maximising its promotion. Going forward we need to become better at selling these ideas. As I look forward I might envisage more heat recovery systems to generate hot water for washing machines and dishwashers or hot air for tumble dryers. The heat from the back of a fridge or freezer could be used as a heat source for the home or provide warmer air input for the tumble dryer. As water becomes scarcer, we will have to be more inventive about how it can be used. Perhaps water from the dishwasher should be recycled and used in a second process,” concludes Les Wicks, head of product and buying at Beko.

EST Voluntary Retailers Initiative on Information Technology

The Energy Saving Trust’s first Voluntary Retailer Initiative on televisions, launched in March 2010, asked for retailers’ commitment in cutting the worst performing TVs from their range, making sure that all models met the minimum energy efficiency standards by January 2011. It also offered retailers the opportunity to encourage sales of their most efficient models; identified by the Energy Saving Trust Recommended label.

The EST has now expanded the Voluntary Retailer Initiative to include IT products. Retailers who sign up to the Voluntary Retailer Initiative will commit to promote the most energy efficient desktops, displays, inkjet printers and laptops using the Energy Saving Trust Recommended product label.

Retailers will also commit to choice editing their ranges to make a target percentage the most energy efficient products. Participation in the scheme gives retailers competitive advantage and credibility in the eyes of consumers.

Over 75% of UK adults, that’s 37 million people, use a computer in the home. UK households are now spending nearly £900 million a year powering computers, printers and other home IT equipment. A best performing Energy Saving Trust Recommended desktop PC will save a customer around £50 in energy bills over the product lifetime compared to the market average.

In return for retailer’s commitment to the Voluntary Retailers Initiative, retailers receive a wealth of support and assistance from the Energy Saving Trust, including marketing support and training guides to help sales staff communicate the energy saving benefits of their range.

For more information on the Voluntary Retailer Initiative on IT and TV, and on how you can sign up to the scheme, please visit www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/estr or email estrmarketing@est.org.uk.

NEW ENERGY LABELS – Amdea advises

It is a legal requirement for certain domestic appliances sold in the EU to display an A-G energy label. At the moment these are washing machines, electric tumble dryers, refrigerators and freezers, dishwashers, combined washer dryers, electric ovens and air conditioners (and light bulbs).

A new label design was agreed in 2010 with the publication of the revised Framework Directive and each product will have its own implementing Regulation specifying the content of its label and how this is calculated. Most products will still have 7 classes but these can now go up to A+++ so some labels will show A+++ to D instead of A-G. Products with a greater range of efficiencies will show all 10 classes (A+++ to G).

Instead of explanatory text in different languages the new labels have pictograms, eg a cartoon represents the fridge volume, a snowflake the freezer capacity. A noise rating (in decibels) is now mandatory and, for water-using products, a figure for average annual water consumption.

At the end of 2010, the first four product-specific Energy Labelling Regulations were published – for refrigerating appliances, washing machines, dishwashers and televisions.

The new labels must be supplied by manufacturers from the end of November 2011 and four months after that it will be mandatory for retailers to display them and for advertising to include the energy information. However, from 20 days after the publication of a Regulation manufacturers may choose to supply the new label on a voluntary basis.

This year we expect new labelling Regulations for tumble dryers, water heaters and vacuum cleaners. Next in line are air-conditioners, fans, cooking appliances, coffee machines and washer-dryers.

So for the next few years we will see both the old and the new labels. Indeed the same product may have an old label in one store and a new label in another, depending on when it was placed on the market.

Selling green appliances – Sales tips

• Use economic arguments to sell the green message. Calculate and communicate the overall savings that can be made by investing in a green product. For example, how many pounds per week or month the consumer will save in running costs or how much less they can expect to use the appliance.

• Use warnings such as: an old washing machine can use double the energy of a new one.

• Appliance styling is no longer compromised; ‘eco’ doesn’t mean ugly as it has done previously. Some of the greenest appliances are some of the very best. Make sure you have a collection on display.

• Consumers trust independent bodies, such as the Energy Saving Trust, so if a product is EST Recommended this should be clearly displayed and communicated to the customer.

Ecodesign Regulations – Amdea advises

In tandem with energy labelling, the EU has introduced ‘ecodesign’ legislation.

As a concept, ecodesign seeks to lessen the environmental impact of products throughout their lifecycles. The Ecodesign Framework Directive explains that requirements are to be set for ‘energy-related products’; these are defined as:

…any good that has an impact on energy consumption during use which is placed on the market and/or put into service, and includes parts intended to be incorporated into energy-related products… which are placed on the market and/or put into service as individual parts for end-users and of which the environment
al performance can be assessed independently

Since 2008 the EU has adopted a number of Regulations setting ecodesign requirements in relation to standby and off mode, external power supplies, lighting, household fridges and freezers, household dishwashers and household washing machines. The Regulations have, in each case, been focused upon making energy savings in the use phase of product lifecycles. This has resulted in specific ecodesign requirements being set that pose minimum energy performance standards that manufacturers must ensure their products meet.

So, while energy labelling legislation aims to influence consumers’ purchasing decisions by providing information about the energy efficiency of products, ecodesign legislation has set minimum standards for manufacturers (standards that are likely to be raised so that the least energy-efficient products are progressively phased out).

The procedure for adopting an Ecodesign Regulation follows a set pattern, starting with “preparatory studies” of suggested products. At present such studies are nearing completion for domestic and commercial ovens, hobs and grills, and coffee machines. The first draft proposals for Regulations should be out for consultation this spring/summer. This year should also see the publication of Ecodesign Regulations for tumble dryers, vacuum cleaners and water heaters (including electric showers). Regulatory proposals for these products were consulted upon during 2010.

Side opening style from Belling

Leading appliance manufacturer, Belling, has added a side opening 60cm oven to its collection of built-in ovens.

The BI60SOXL, is a built-in electric fanned single oven with variable grill, available in a stylish black finish. It has a side opening door which can be hinged left or right. The oven can be installed at eye level, or for wheelchair users or those with limited mobility, can be built under for easy access to the oven cavity.

The oven door has a large viewing window to make monitoring the progress of food trouble-free and is finished with a sturdy vertical handle. Inside the cavity, two oven shelves with telescopic sliders allow for easy access.

The BI60SOXL features an LED clock and programmer, with large easy-to-read graphics in a bold blue.The oven is A rated and offers a generous usable cooking capacity of 58 litres.

www.belling.co.uk  Tel: 0844 2484149

ge puts new spin on laundry

GE has unveiled a stylish new washing machine with unrivalled capacity, offering energy savings, exceptional cleaning quality and fabric care.

New to the market, the WIH68*CJ is a front loading washing machine with a huge 10kg stainless steel basket, capable of holding up to 24 full sized bath towels – radically reducing the number of loads required.

The striking WIH68*CJ is available in white, silver, a striking black with silver trim and an eye catching red. It features a 1100 RPM spin speed and boasts a choice of 26 wash cycles including a time-saving 38 minute speed wash.

Despite its power and size, the WIH68*CJ has an operational noise level of only 69dB and uses as little as 38 litres of water per load. The appliance is AAB rated for energy efficiency.

0844 248 4598

www.geappliances.co.uk

Verdi

Ever sensitive to the wider issues facing the world Elica announce Verdi. A dramatic vertically mounted hood which reduces energy consumption whilst retaining the performance a modern kitchen requires. Verdi uses Elica’s new Synairgy low energy motor system which makes it possible to manage and optimise power consumption, performance and noise level as well as very efficient LED lighting.

Another exciting innovation is the intelligent Chef-Control system where the hood gives the cook the most appropriate settings depending on what they are cooking.

Verdi the green alternative offers a fascinating new option for kitchen design and use.

01252 351111 www.elica.co.uk

Smeg cleans up with a new dishwasher range

The new Smeg range of dishwashers have been designed for better performance and increased functionality. Seamlessly blending style with technology, the range is available in black, white and stainless steel.

The Smeg dishwashers achieve the best cleaning performance while reducing environmental impact. All of the new products use 40% less water than existing models due to a new hydraulic system and the new EnerSave option saves up to 20% of energy by ensuring perfect drying and control over rinsing cycles.

The dishwashers only need 10 litres of water to perform a wash cycle, compared with the current industry average of 14-16 litres. Their energy rating is also better than the industry standard at A -20%.

0844 5570070 www.smeguk.com and www.smeg50style.com

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