I am sure most of you are aware that the EU has recently introduced restrictions regarding the maximum power of vacuum cleaners that can be purchased. It may well have been expected that Euro-sceptic pseudo-buffoon Boris Johnson would aim a sideswipe at this legislation, saying on national radio “…what we’re trying to do in Europe is stop the loony approach of Brussels that believes in over-regulating to the extent where they try to ban vacuum cleaners that are too powerful…” but he was also voicing views akin to those I have heard expressed by sensible people. Those you would expect to instinctively know that a high overall power rating does not necessarily a good appliance make.
I must admit that when I was working on designing new widgets at the last Temple of Mammon it always amazed me that we would flirt with decreasing efficiency so that we could claim a higher Watts rating on the packaging. I even bounced the idea off our tame fluffies that if we could demonstrate an equal performance for a lower wattage then we could promote our products as being more efficient – not only offering a cheaper running cost but chiming with the more ecologically aware times that we are living in.
Such suggestions were met with a sympathetic smile and slow shaking of the head indicating that I was a naive simpleton to believe such a strategy even had a chance of succeeding. No, conventional wisdom dictated that the average consumer was an unsophisticated soul who would be swayed more than anything by a big number writ large, and who would have no actual idea of what it meant in real terms. Rather than applying the thought processes of the rational individual they would invariably react with Pavlovian certainty.
However I kept faith in the public and held onto a belief that they were better than these views allowed. Surely they would see where real value lay rather than un-contextualised irrelevance? Sadly it would appear that I have now been proven wrong.
People need to move their myopic methods of evaluating items and, if we are serious about reducing energy needs, it has to be across the board on everything we own. There needs to be a way of forcing a new system for looking at what we buy, one that politicians and civic leaders should understand and get behind for all our sakes.
It could start small and spread in both scope and application. Perhaps new legislation…limiting the power of particular household goods…. for instance?