Domestic bliss

We’ve all become familiar with those colour-coded stickers on the side of fridges, dishwashers and the like telling us how energy-efficient our new appliance is or is not.


Buy at the A-rated Green end of the spectrum, and you can look forward to lower power bills and bask in the warm, virtuous glow of doing your bit for the environment. Pick a ‘G’ and its livid red sticker and you’ll pay through the nose and might as well start wearing a t-shirt with ‘global warming – who cares?’ written on the front.


Of course, in reality it is far from as straightforward as that. Technical improvements have already led to inflation in the rating system, leaving some A-rated gadgets so palpably superior to their fellow top-performers that they now merit ‘AAA’ status, leaving the old single ‘A’ looking a little suspect if you really want to be green. Most UK washing machines, for example, are now an ‘A’ of some sort, and if you really want to thumb your nose at political correctness and buy a ‘G’ you’ll probably have to go to the former Soviet Union. Perhaps inevitably, the EU is on the act as well with its own Eco-label system.


We mention this because the government this week announced that homes will be subjected to a similar type of rating system as part of the new Seller-Packs to be introduced next year.


Just as it is questionable how often the A-G rating tips the balance one way or the other in Currys’ showrooms, it would be easy to dismiss this initiative as a token gesture and another example of officialdom’s desire to rank and rate everything under the sun.


In fact it is another indicator of which way the wind is blowing. The homes we live in and our places of work and entertainment will inevitably come under the same regulatory scrutiny as our cars and, indeed, our washing machines.


And in a period of rampant energy price inflation, it is certain that the savings available on consumption will become less marginal and more critical to businesses and householders alike. For engineers and technologists, this represents a host of major new opportunities.


Andrew Lee


Editor


The Engineer & The Engineer Online



PS. There is still time to reserve a place at The Engineer Summit to be held at ImperialCollege, London on June 27, on the theme of Commercialising Innovation. This unique event places in context the many opportunities and challenges surrounding the creation of successful products from technical innovation, from collaborating with partners to funding and intellectual property issues, and features speakers from blue-chip companies including Rolls-Royce, Vodafone and Qinetiq. For more details visit the link below.