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The European Commission explains how it will save you from buying the vacuum cleaner you want

“Consumer will get better vacuum cleaners than ever before”

As regards power, the maximum allowed input power will be reduced: from 1600 Watt in 1 September 2014, to 900 Watt in September 2017. The current average on the market is about 1800 Watt.

One additional measure helping to tackle climate change

The new rules will save 19 terawatt-hour per year by 2020, which is the electricity produced by more than 4 power plants or consumed by 5.5 million households.

Of course, measures on vacuum cleaners alone will not tackle climate change. However, if we consider all products together for which minimum efficiency requirements exist in the EU, the overall savings achieve up to a third of the EU’s energy saving target for 2020.

ADDED LATER: Commenter “Vinegar Joe” has pointed out that this is a perfect example of producer capture. “This policy was lobbied for by Dyson, who will be less adversely affected by it than their competition.” In this document Dyson appears to boast that the new EU law was a result of their lobbying. Under the heading “Legislation”, it reads:

“Dyson has always shown that through efficient engineering, high performance can be achieved with low power – and we’re trying to encourage others to do the same. We have successfully lobbied the European Union to introduce a cap on the size of vacuum motors from 2014. The estimated energy savings from the EU Ecodesign and Energy Labelling measures for vacuum cleaners amount to 19 Terawatt hours of electricity per year by estimated 8 million tons of CO2e.”

I love that jolly “we’re trying to encourage others to do the same”. For “encourage”, read “force”.

Dyson appears to be attempting to play both sides. In this Guardian article it says that despite supporting the rule in principle, Dyson is seeking a judicial review of some aspects at the ECJ. While I’d like to think that was them being hoist by their own petard, I suspect that the real result will be some more fine-tuning of the regulations to more perfectly fit Dyson’s own requirements. The only thing that will stop me starting a lifetime boycott of Dyson products now is evidence that rival manufacturers were at it too.

By the way, does anyone remember this extremely unpopular policy being in the manifesto of any political party for which one could vote at either national or EU elections?

43 comments to The European Commission explains how it will save you from buying the vacuum cleaner you want

  • tom599

    If the vacuum cleaner has only half the power you’ll probably need to use it three times as long to sweep. It’s obvious that the more powerful the device, any device, the less you need to use it. Why can’t they see this?

  • matt

    Can we leave yet?

  • I expect there will be an exemption for industrial vacuum cleaners, e.g. for hotel cleaners, etc. Which domestic users will then buy. I can’t see how this is going to work in practice, as more powerful Hoovers will be needed for some applications and restricting them to only certain people will be impossible. Unless we move to a Hoover licensing system…

  • Fraser Orr

    All I can say is that sucks, or doesn’t suck, or something like that.

    (OK, sorry but someone had to say it.)

  • Typical EU getting things back to front. Obviously what they should be doing is making vacuum cleaners more and more powerful so as to suck up all that CO2.

  • Bruce Hoult

    I bought a 2200W Philips vacuum this week. My old one needed replacing anyway. And this one was marked down from $500 to $200. I have no idea whether European companies will keep making powerful ones for other markets, but why take the risk?

  • CaptDMO

    So, in the US we have LAWS concerning toilets.
    In order to save water, all “new” toilets sold will have a limited tank” volume of water.
    Of COURSE they need to be flushed twice.
    Meanwhile, bidet sales are growing. California lawns meet “community standards” of greenness, and bottled water costs more than gasoline/gal.
    At the risk of subjecting myself to felony charges if I ever run for “office” again (conservative)
    Why YES, I did recycle an antique toilet (grandfathered). I had to rebuild it with replacement parts found (redacted). It doesn’t stick out as “suspicious” at ALL in the 200+ year old house I actually OWN (free and clear, except annual taxes, and IMMORTAL to-do list)
    Of COURSE I “tuned” it, by trial and error, to appropriate flush for the least water. But I’m one of those “fix anything” kind of guy that actually knows how to use…..toooooooools. Across State lines, for illegal purposes, if need be.
    Kicker. I flush my toilet with the same water source, sold and shipped in individual 500ml plastic bottles by Nestle, to folks who have no concept of refilling a canteen, and would get the vapors drinking from a garden hose.

  • J.M. Heinrichs

    The loss of power would probably be less noticeable if the blowing was better coordinated with the sucking.


  • Paul Marks

    This is what the establishment (falsely) call a “Euro myth” – they laugh when examples like this are given, saying “you silly reactionaries – of course the E.U. does not do things like this”.

    But it does – the defence (and the laughter) of the establishment is a vast, stinking, lie.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    The initial reduction doesn’t bite too hard. Very few vacuums exceed 1600w. I’m sure this was intended. Although I note that the legislation comes with a double whammy – a power limit and a requirement for no doubt expensive EU-approved energy efficiency ratings. That’s got to drive prices up.

    Unlike the 1600w limit, the 2017 reduction to 900w will ban pretty much everything including Dysons and Numatic Henry Hoovers. Henry Hoovers have a fanatical fanbase – they even have fan pages on the net. We have one. The kids are always bugging me to buy Henry’s “wife” Hetty (same hoover in pink). Sticking a face on their hoover was a stroke of marketing genius. It makes you anthropomorphize a household appliance. It isn’t an “it”, it’s a “he”. It’s not “the Hoover”, it’s “Henry”.

    It seems daft, but trying to take away people’s Henry, or reduce him to a neutered shadow of his former self, might just be enough to tip some Britons into active revolution – even when everything else wasn’t.

    As always, trying to impose “standards” will drive prices up, while of course reducing quality. If trying to make you pay more for less isn’t a kick in the nuts, I don’t know what is. The EU, if it ever becomes a nation, will presumably be one where asthmatics desperately wheeze their way through the hoovering to no avail, since the standards ensure their hoovers are inadaquate to the task of removing household dust.

  • Jake Haye

    What the EU kommissars omit to mention on their blog is that this policy was lobbied for by Dyson, who will be less adversely affected by it than their competition.

  • NickM

    I love my Henry. They’re great. They beat the pants off Dyson.

  • Vinegar Joe

    Dyson’s lobbying:

    “Dyson has always shown that through efficient engineering,
    high performance can be achieved with low power – and
    we’re trying to encourage others to do the same. We have
    successfully lobbied the European Union to introduce a cap
    on the size of vacuum motors from 2014. The estimated
    energy savings from the EU Ecodesign and Energy Labelling
    measures for vacuum cleaners amount to 19 Terawatt hours
    of electricity per year by 2020. This corresponds to an
    estimated 8 million tons of CO2e.”


  • Interesting how encouraging and compelling have become synonyms.

  • Thanks, Joe. Fancy that…

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    Vinegar and Alisa,

    Sounds to me as though he tried a little regulatory capture and then it turned around and bit him on the ass. Reading between the lines, he likes the 1600w ban (which favours him), and didn’t see the 900w ban (which doesn’t) coming.

    Dyson vacuum cleaners score highly in the ratings. However, the manufacturer has many concerns about flaws in the system that will ultimately be unhelpful for consumers. It is seeking a judicial review of the legislation at the European court of justice, with judgment due in December 2015. Sir James Dyson, whose company pioneered “bagless” vacuums, said he believed the label itself was a good idea, pointing out that he had never made a machine over 1,600 watts. But he said there were many engineering aspects other than the size of the machine to take into account, and he feared strong performing vacuum cleaners would be rated badly and lead the consumer to buy a machine that simply did not work efficiently.


  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    Further reading from James Dyson:

    Sounds as though he was actually lobbying them to award special “super dooper status” to his cleaners, and only his, because of their bagless design and now feels aggrieved that motor size alone is the measure by which they judge efficiency.

    He doesn’t mention the forthcoming 2017 900w cap but given that pretty much all of his cleaners exceed that, I don’t imagine he’s happy about it.

    I know Dyson is presented as the Elon Musk of vacuum cleaners, but frankly I’ve never been that impressed with his products. I owned one for a few years and you needed to keep a stock of rubber belts for the brushes in because they broke at the drop of a hat. Similarly with his “bladeless fans” (they’re nothing of the sort, the blades are simply out of sight). His products have always struck me as ostensibly revolutionary, but their main selling point is actually how well they’ve convinced the monied metrosexual classes that they are the vacuum to have.

    In the few years I owned a Dyson it broke down (needed a new belt, or other failure) probably every 2 months or so. In the 10 years I’ve owned a Henry it has broken down exactly zero times. Once we thought we’d killed it by hoovering up a plasticine “incident” caused by our children and clogged poor Henry till he stopped working altogether. But no, we’d just tripped his overheat protection mode, and once we’d picked the offending plasticine out of his hose and allowed him to cool down, he sprang back to life.

  • JV,

    The ultimate proof that Henrys are good is those who clean for a living use them. I have never seen a professional cleaner using a Dyson.

  • It won’t be just vacuum cleaners, apparently, that will fall foul of the Ecodesign Directive but a host of other appliances, including hair dryers, lawnmowers, kettles and smartphones. Welcome to our not-so-bright and distinctly rather underpowered future.

    Moreover, EU Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger has spoken out against criticism of the directive, as it “risks creating anti-European feelings amongst citizens.”

    Take care then, fellow citizens, lest our lack of approved thoughts be noted and referred to a nascent Un-European Activities Committee…

  • JohnK

    Someone should ask the annoyingly smug Sir James Dyson just how much in the way of rare earths his overpriced vacuum cleaners use in their oh so green motors.

  • Jerry

    It’s worse than that.
    I now have a ‘smart’ meter on my home ( another ‘digital wonder’ – great ! ) to measure my electrical use. I now get a weekly ‘statement’ of my usage along with ccomparison for the previous weeks usage. And NO, I did not have a choice about whether or not I wanted the d**n thing.
    Over time, as these meters become more common, there will be ‘standards’ developed based on ‘average’ KW used by the ‘average’ family, ‘average’ temperatures ( affecting furnace &/or A/C usage ), ‘average’ number of occupants in the home, on and on and on.
    After that, you can be ‘profiled’ and another aspect of you life can now be gathered, sifted, sorted, endlessly scrutinized and CONTROLLED !!

    ‘We have noticed that you seem to be using more electricity than the ‘average’ we have determined for your situation !!. Might we come in and inspect your home and I’m sure we can HELP you to reduce your usage ????
    No, you say ?
    Very well, we’ll be back shortly with a warrant !!!

    Think not ??
    Think again.
    30 years ago I would have laughed at anyone who suggested the coming of some of the restrictions in place today or some of the legal coersions we see today.

    The vacuum cleaner joke you are seeing is just another example of ‘just a little bit at a time so no one will scream too loudly’ method that has been employed VERY successfully for decades now.

  • Stonyground

    As always, the unintended consequences are easy to see for anyone with a mind. I had heard about the limited capacity bogs referred to by captDMO before. As he says, they use more water not less because they don’t work properly and have to be flushed twice. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that what would actually work would be a dual flush that allows you to select high or low volumes of water depending on what you have deposited in the pan. I am aware that these are already available but what I had in mind was something that actually works.

    Applying this nonsense to kettles really is the height of idiocy because the energy required to boil a given amount of water is exactly the same whatever the power output of your kettle. A kettle that is half as powerful will take twice as long to heat the water. The same principle must apply to all appliances to some extent, a feeble vacuum cleaner is going to take longer to do the job and use as much or more energy as a consequence.

    It is also important to remember that this stuff is only being pushed because we have to stop global warming, which doesn’t actually need stopping because it stopped all by itself eighteen years ago.

  • Fraser Orr

    Dyson might remember the old Scottish proverb, when you sup with the devil use a long spoon.

  • Ernie G

    “Dyson has always shown that through efficient engineering, high performance can be achieved with low power – and we’re trying to encourage others to do the same.”

    Then how about letting the others you are encouraging use your patents?

  • Ernie G

    I noted CaptDMO’s comment on the low-flush toilet. I have one and they’re not worth a damn. And don’t get me started on the Icanpissmorethanthat shower heads. I understand that there’s a substantial fine for a plumber who removes the throttling orifice.

  • The damned things in the showerheads can be easily removed by yourself. Toilets is a different matter. In Israel the dual-capacity flush tanks are quite common, but in my experience are impractical, because people tend to forget to use the lesser-capacity button or lever, or just go for the “safer” option consciously. They also tend to break sooner.

    Long ago, in older buildings, we used to have a simple faucet instead of a flush tank. You open it, you wait until the water flushes everything that needs to be flushed, you close it. Simple. Sometimes the old and the simple ways are better (not always, of course).

  • Paul Marks

    Alisa – Dyson is run by a pro E.U. person (Mr Dyson – odd ideas about what should be built in the city of Bath), he is so pro E.U. that he manufactures his machines outside the E.U.

    More than that I do not know.

    Other than bureaucrats (and I was one) need no lobbying to invent regulations – it is what they do.

  • They may not need lobbying, Paul, but they are still susceptible to it, as Dyson’s case clearly shows.

  • rxc

    I agree that the limits on the vacuum cleaners and the kettles are silly. If the kettles have smaller heating elements, they will just take longer to boil the water, but they will use exactly the same amount of energy.

    However, I think I have found water efficient toilets that work well. They are made by Toto, of Japan. They use very little watter and don’t have to be flushed twice. As an engineer, I am amazed by their performance. They are, however, bloody expensive, and the small plastic parts to repair them also cost a fortune. But they do work. I don’t think, however, that it would really be worthwhile to replace existing toilets until they die and go to toilet heaven. Better to spend the money on fixing the water supply infrastructure to find all the leaks. Unfortunately, no politician wants to have his name associated with a maintenance program – they prefer having their names on the side of buildings.

  • Stuck-record

    It illustrates the genius of the watermelons. Some bright spark realised that since modern life is impossible without our energy slave, he who controls then energy slave controls society completely, since all action is impossible without the energy slave.

    So they invented the climate god.

  • Jerry

    ‘ …. the energy required to boil a given amount of water is exactly the same whatever the power output of your kettle. A kettle that is half as powerful will take twice as long to heat ‘

    You have just FAR exceeded the common sense/intelligence/scientific knowledge/metal capacity of most politicians, bureaucrats and government employees in general !!!!

  • Mr Ed

    You will know that they are genuine about saving the Earth when they regulate the number of bureaucrats and the amount of power that they can use….

  • Richard Thomas

    Lower powered kettles take more power since they are losing heat whilst they are getting up to boiling.

    So look forward to regulations specifying added insulation (the manufacture of which will use more energy then the net electricity usage of a kettle over its lifetime) and kettles which are mandated to switch off well below boiling (also gaining bonus “health and safety gone mad” points).

    I can also confirm that water restrictions on toilets *are* a water waster. Though there is a valid point that too much water is wasted for simple yellow-water removal. It seems like a robust dual flush system should not be beyond the reach of engineers. I would suggest that a system able to detect and use the appropriate amount of water should certainly be a viable proposition these days but I suspect that regulations already in place would prevent it being able to operate across the full range that would be required.

  • Andrew Duffin

    “…a system able to detect and use the appropriate amount of water…”

    No, no, a thousand times no!

    Such a system would be sanitary equivalent of condensing boilers, that is to say it would contain complicated un-repairable electronics which would go wrong a lot, would (inevitably) need to be serviced by – surprise! – qualified registered EU-mandated “engineers”, and would need replacing every five years or so (“Nah, can’t get the parts for those old models any more”). And of course, it would phone home.

    Keep it simple: syphon flushing valves and suitable-sized tanks. As with light bulbs, you should stock up before they’re banned.

  • Laird

    “you should stock up before they’re banned.”

    Unfortunately, Andrew, in the US it’s too late on both counts.

  • the other rob

    Daniel Hannan weighs in:

    When I first became an MEP, I innocently thought that businesses would be opposed to regulation. How wrong I was. In fact, large corporations love EU rules. They know that they can easily meet the compliance costs, but that their smaller rivals will be put out of business.


    Every time the EU intervenes like this, it creates an allied lobby group: a cartel of producers who now have a vested interest in keeping the new regulations and thus, by implication, backing the Eurocrats who decree them. It’s why large corporations tend to be so much more pro-Brussels than small and medium firms.

  • Mary Contrary

    If the following story at the Telegraph is correct, and Mr Dyson is quoted accurately, then Dyson is absolutely guilty of trying to exploit regulation to limit competition, and is just whining that he’s having to share his rents with a few other big companies.

    I have no sympathy left at all.


  • Mose Jefferson

    Get a Shark. It’s like a Dyson, but very cheap and very sucky. Mine sucks harder than any other vacuum I’ve owned. Yes, it’s largely made of plastic, which sucks, but has not seemed to adversely affect the overall suckage of the Shark. Sharks don’t suck, but they do suck hard.

    I am done now.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Alisa, I’m late to this party, but I have to say that indeed sometimes the older ways are best. Direct, simple, straightforward.

    Think of all the professional Great Chefs who insisted on using those old-fashioned affairs with *no moving parts* to chop-chop-chop-mince-done! (Personally, I love the blender & food processor, though I don’t use them much since I don’t do much in the kitchen anymore except clean it — occasionally with a Kenmore drag-it-around-behind-you vac. I hate the uprights!)

    Ahem, yes, knives. Easy to get out, easy to clean, and if you learn the proper technique (which I never did) easy to use.

    On the other hand, the finest musical instrument ever invented is also the most complicated: the piano. (Well, the honorable 7-manual pipe organ isn’t the very model of simplicity either.)


  • LOL Julie, I had to go back and recall what was it that I wrote there…Yep, agree 🙂

    For me, knives are great for small amounts of food to be cut or chopped etc., while the use of machines is better justified for big meals for large numbers of people. In thous cases, they (the machine parts) are also more likely to go into the dishwasher, which is going to fill up with other dishes in any case – not so with small meals for two or three people. I love gadgets and technology and all that, but OTOH I hate to be a slave to it. Unfortunately, our lords and masters tend to enslave us to certain ways of doing things (sometimes its the more modern ways, sometimes its actually the older ones). The very concept of free choice seems to be anathema to them.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Alisa, 😉

  • Heh, funny I was RSSed back into this thread now, as only yesterday I overheard a couple discussing vacuum cleaners, and the woman saying something to the effect that ‘Dyson cleaners are crap’ :-O