RFP #8-10

Study on the New European Energy Label Assessing Consumer Comprehension and Effectiveness as a Market Transformation Tool


The Collaborative Labeling and Appliance Standards Program (CLASP) is an international non-profit organization that promotes energy efficiency standards[1] and labeling for commonly used appliances and equipment. With support from the ClimateWorks Foundation,[2] CLASP is expanding its efforts to ensure that the right experts are in the right places at the right times and that appropriate information exchange leads to maximum CO2 savings. To that end, CLASP is funding technical analyses that support international/ regional policymakers involved in standards and labeling.

This RFP requests a Study on the new European Energy Label Design. The study should assess consumer comprehension and the label’s effectiveness at conveying information and promoting the most energy efficient products.

The study should provide in-depth insights into how consumers understand the new label, how the label information may inform consumer choice and decision making, and what inferences consumers are able to make based on the information provided on the label. It should also assess the labels effectiveness as an information and market transformation tool aimed at increasing market share for the most energy efficient appliances and equipment.

The final report should identify key strengths and weaknesses of the new label design and the proposed new labeling scheme and put forward recommendations on how elements of the label design and the overall labeling scheme can be improved to effectively capture the additional CO2 savings potentials effective labeling programs are known to deliver.

The resulting study should provide policy makers and stakeholders at EU level and in EU Member States and EEA countries[3] with an overview and better understanding of the key issues concerning the new label design. It should also show how to improve its effectiveness as a market transformation tool if weaknesses are identified. The findings from this study should inform a follow-up study planned for 2013 and findings from both should provide independent, empirical analysis and evidence for the discussions on the review and possible revision of the energy label design foreseen in the Energy Labelling Directive[4] for 2014.

[1] Minimum energy performance requirements as defined in DIR 2009/125/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 establishing a framework for the setting of ecodesign requirements for energy related products.

[2] The ClimateWorks Foundation is a private foundation, based in the United States, with a globally distributed network of philanthropic, technical, and policy advocacy organizations working together to reduce CO2 emissions in key sectors and geographic regions.

[3] European Economic Area countries include EU27 and Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway.

[4] DIR 2010/30/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 May 2010 on the indication by labelling and standard product information of the consumption of energy and other resources by energy-related products, OJ L 153/1, 18.06.2010.


The Presidency conclusions of the European Council of 8-9 March, 2007, emphasized the need to increase energy efficiency to achieve the Union’s objective of saving 20% of its energy consumption and reducing 20% of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. The Council called for a thorough and rapid implementation of the key areas of the Commission’s 2006 ‘Action Plan for Energy Efficiency: Realising the Potential,’ which highlighted the enormous energy savings opportunities in the products sector. It was against this backdrop that the Commission proposed to recast the Energy Labeling Directive[1] and the Ecodesign Directive to strengthen the provisions of both framework directives and to extend their product scope. Whereas the 1992 Energy Labelling Directive covered only household appliances, the 2005 Ecodesign Directive was limited to energy-using products. Both Directives now apply to all energy-related products.[2]

While the Ecodesign Directive establishes a framework for the setting of ecodesign requirements for energy related products, which ensures that the poorest, least energy efficient products are removed from the market, the Energy Labelling Directive is a framework directive that mandates the European Commission to adopt labeling requirements for specific energy related products to promote the market uptake of the most efficient products available and suppliers to continuously improve the energy performance of their product offerings. The Energy Labelling Directive together with the Ecodesign Directive forms part of a broader European legal framework, which in the context of a holistic approach to product policy, is expected to bring about additional energy savings and environmental gains.

The Energy Labelling Directive and Delegated Acts

The Energy Labelling Directive provides a mandate for the Commission to adopt delegated acts for the indication by labeling and standard product information of the consumption of energy and other resources by energy-related products during use. It requires the Commission to adopt such measures for products which have i) a significant potential for energy savings, and, where relevant, other resources, and, ii) a wide disparity of relevant performance levels for equivalent functionalities. A technical, environmental and economic analysis (most commonly referred to as a “Preparatory Study”) followed by an impact assessment must conclude that both conditions are fulfilled before an energy labeling proposal for a specific product or product group can be put forward.

To date, the Commission has adopted four delegated acts for labeling[3]: Televisions will be labeled for the first time; whereas for household refrigerating appliances, washing machines and dishwashers the proposals represent a revision of the label design. The entry into force of the Commission Delegated Acts or Regulations is subject to the right of objection of the European Parliament (EP) and the European Council of Member States (Council). The EP and Council have two months to object to the proposals. The two-month period can be extended with an additional two months if the institutions can justify that they need more time to review.

Information plays a key role in the operation of free markets, such as the European Union, by making it more transparent and reducing the time consumers have to spend on gathering product information necessary for their purchasing decision. A successful energy labeling scheme includes an energy label that effectively communicates easily understood information to consumers in a transparent manner and conveys it in such as way that it encourages consumers to use it for the purpose of product choice and motivates manufacturers to put ever more efficient products on the market.

The Energy Label

According to the Energy Labelling Directive, the energy label should allow consumers to easily identify the appliances that consume the least amount of energy, be it in the shop, in mail order catalogues, or online retail outlets.

The EU energy label is a comparative label. Initially it had seven energy classes ranging from A-G, A being the most efficient label class. The A-G classes should still be used the first time a product is being labelled, which is the case for televisions. The introduction of the labeling scheme in the mid-nineties has triggered considerable technological development, and the A class for currently labelled products include a very wide disparity of performance levels – around 80% or above of these products sold on the European market are now A-rated leaving little room for any product differentiation based on efficiency improvements. Rather than rescaling the energy classification, to allow consumers to better distinguish and differentiate the most efficient products from the less efficient ones, the EU opted for adding extra energy classes to the existing scale. For products such as household refrigerators and freezers, washing machines and dishwashers, which have been labelled for more than 10 years, the new labeling system allows up to three additional energy classes (A+, A++ and A+++) to be added on the top of class A.

Symbols or pictograms replace descriptive text in the new energy label design to make it more language neutral. For dishwashers for example, symbols for “water use per annum”, “drying efficiency class”, “capacity, in terms of number of place settings” and “noise” are included. Energy use per cycle is no longer included in the label. See the respective proposals for Commission Delegated Acts for depictions of and more information on the symbols used in the various labels. The four labeling proposals and the images of the new energy label designs can be found here.

Television label: A new label

The initial compulsory layout of the television label should use the A-G scale, but if a manufacturer achieves a better ranking, e.g. ‘A+’, this ranking may be shown on the label. The compulsory format will be upgraded in three-year intervals in 2014, 2017 and 2020, and the additional energy efficiency classes ‘A+’, ‘A++’, ‘A+++’, respectively have to be added to the label and the colour code of a particular efficiency class is ‘downgraded’. However, the energy efficiency ranking of a particular model remains unchanged. The television label can never have more than seven classes, which means class G is removed when A+ is added, and class F is removed when A++ is added, and so on. The energy efficiency classes should be based on the Energy Efficiency Index provided for in the Commission Delegated Regulation.

Refrigerating appliance label: Revision of an existing label

Refrigerators, freezers, and their combinations, were the first appliance product group to be labelled in Europe, the Directive was adopted in 1994 and labels appeared on products on the shop floor in 1995. To account for rapid market transformation and the increasing market share of A-rated products, ‘A+’ and ‘A++’ classes were added in 2003 to allow consumers to identify the most energy efficient models and provide manufacturers of these with a means to differentiate them from less efficient models. In contrast to the television label which will have no more than seven energy classes, for refrigerating appliances the label can have up to 10 classes, from ‘G’ to ‘A+++’. The initial energy efficiency class requirements will be tightened in 2014, but only for the ‘A+’ and ‘A’ classes. For all other classes the efficiency index remains unchanged.

Household dishwashers: Revision of an existing label

Ninety percent of household dishwashers on the market today are A-rated, while there is still potential for energy efficiency improvements. For dishwashers energy efficiency classes from ‘A+++’ to ‘D’ have been proposed, and ‘A’ to ‘G’ classes for drying efficiency.

Washing machines: Revision of an existing label

As with dishwashers, 90% of household washing machines on today’s market are A-rated, while a potential for energy efficiency improvements also still exists for this product group. For washing machines too energy efficiency classes from ‘A+++’ to ‘D’ have been proposed, and ‘A’ to ‘G’ classes for spin-drying efficiency. Pictograms appearing on the label indicate “energy use in kWh per annum”, “water use per annum”, “capacity in terms of kilo of laundry”, “spin-cycle class”, and “noise emissions in dB” for both cycles.

[1] Council DIR 92/75/EEC of 22 September 1992 on the indication by labeling and standard product information of the consumption of energy and other resources by household appliances.

[2] Energy related products are defined as those products having a direct or indirect impact on the consumption of any forms of energy during use and encompass both energy-using appliances and equipment and energy-related products such as windows, insulation, water taps, which have significant potential to save energy in use or when installed.

[3] Adopted on 28 September 2010, see here.

Scope of Work

The study should be exploratory and qualitative in nature, using focus groups and/or interviews for primary data collection. Its objective is to improve our knowledge of how consumers understand and interpret the label and its various elements. The purpose is to provide independent, empirical analysis and evidence for the discussions on the review and possible revision of the energy label design planned for 2014. The new label will only be displayed in shops or other sales outlets on the four products mentioned above as of late 2011 or early 2012. Manufacturers can start using the label earlier on a voluntary basis. It is therefore not possible at this time to include a quantitative survey to test whether findings from the qualitative study also hold true for a larger sample of the population. As mentioned above, the findings from this ex-ante study should also inform a subsequent ex-post study CLASP plans to undertake in late 2013, early 2014. In late 2013, the new label will have been displayed on the above mentioned products for almost two years. The follow-up study should test awareness, how comprehension, interpretation and use of the new label have changed over time, as well as how other supporting national measures and incentives may have influenced the market for energy efficient appliances. The follow-up study will also include a quantitative survey. CLASP, in collaboration with network partners, also plan to undertake market monitoring activities to track the impact of the new label on the market share for energy efficient products, from 2012-2014.

The study results should be as representative as possible for consumer markets across the EU, but we do not expect that the study will collect primary data in all 27 Member States. Bidders should use their research design expertise to arrive at a geographic scope that is appropriate for this study balancing the need for accuracy with the need for cost effective and expedient collection and analysis of data. All proposals should contain a clear presentation of the proposed research design as well as a clear articulation of the rationale behind the design.

The study should also identify strengths and weaknesses in the label layout and design and provide recommendations for how weaknesses can be overcome.

The following tasks should be undertaken as part of the study:

  1. Elaborate and refine the proposed research design and methodology in collaboration with CLASP and relevant network partners;
  2. Test and assess consumer comprehension of all of the elements contained in the label for each of the different products;
  3. Assess how the existence of different efficiency classes affect comprehension and the ability of consumers to make valid inferences about performance of the product across product categories;
  4. Provide an overview and analysis of elements that are poorly understood, generate confusion or lead respondents to make inferences about the performance or efficiency of the appliances that are incorrect; and
  5. Provide recommendations for how consumer comprehension of the label design and layout can be improved.

For all of the research questions above, results should be gathered as much as possible using unaided questions. In addition, test of comprehension should drill down to actual interpretations of results, and not simply report self-perceptions of understanding. For example, questions which force participants to choose the most efficient between multiple label/product examples as well as to identify which among the possible rankings (A+++ to G) is the best and worst.

This study should be coordinated with any ongoing studies to avoid overlap and duplication of efforts. Please identify relevant studies and projects in your submittal.

CLASP, through its local partners (particularly the European Climate Foundation and its partners/grantees), will discuss the analysis and present the findings and recommendations of the study to practitioners and policymakers in order to further dialogue on ways to capture the full CO2 savings potential afforded by effective label design and labeling schemes. The intended overall goal of the work of this kind is to dramatically transform markets, improve economic efficiency, and accelerate the pace of greenhouse gas mitigation.

CLASP staff may also use the results of this study to discuss ways to improve the label design with both policy makers, at EU and national/regional levels, and relevant stakeholders. Additionally, CLASP will share the findings of this study with NGOs, efficiency advocates, regional/national bodies and networks, and any other organization working on energy labeling.

Indicative Budget Range: Total costs of between 75-100,000 EUR (including VAT) 


A final report, periodic progress reports, task reports, as well as focus group/interview guides should be submitted in line with an agreed study timeline. The final report should document the sources of data, research design and methodology, including analytic framework, and findings of the study presented in a manner that demonstrates to practitioners and policy makers in countries across Europe how consumers understand the new label design, the information presented in it, how the information may influence choice and decision making processes, and how additional information activities and incentives can strengthen and reinforce the effectiveness and impact of the energy label to capture the CO2 savings potentials effective energy labeling schemes are known to deliver. The final report should include a discussion of the potential policy implications of the study findings and also have a succinct Executive Summary setting out of the key findings and their suggested implications for Europe’s labeling policy.


Only CLASP Implementing Partners can be awarded CLASP contracts. Information on how to become a CLASP Implementing Partner is available here.

A committee appointed by CLASP, consisting of CLASP staff and external experts, will evaluate qualifications received from respondents. Selection of qualified experts will be based upon the following criteria:

  • European and international reputation as leading expert/s on qualitative consumer energy behavior and energy labeling related research; 
  • Experience applying market research to policy-making with extra credit for experience in the energy and environmental areas and/or past work on appliances;
  • Experience working with or for multilateral ventures and on European cooperation in the realm of consumer energy behaviour and energy labeling;
  • Top-of-mind familiarity with the first Energy Labelling Directive and Member State implementation;
  • Team Leadership/Team Composition: Track record of successful project management and implementation, with credit given for direct experience in a management role on behalf of CLASP;
  • Understanding of the requirements of the study;
  • Quality of the proposed research design and project management and implementation approach; and 
  • Value for money.

Additional information about CLASP's selection process is available here.


An interested party should submit:

  1. A full resume (1 page) of the individual conducting the study or, if a team effort, of each member of the team, including language capabilities and contact information. CLASP reserves the right to mix individuals that it selects from proposing teams to build the best European team possible for this study.
  2. A detailed statement explaining why the proposed project leader is the best suited expert for this study. If a team is proposed, credentials for all team members and the approach to joint work should be summarized in one additional page per member, including what expertise and experience each brings to the team and defining role/activities for each team member.
  3. A detailed statement (5-10 pages) of the general approach he or she would undertake in conducting the research, describing the research design, including a detailed outline of the analytical framework, data collection methods, geographic coverage, and identifying recent and ongoing studies and initiatives that need to be taken into account to avoid overlap and duplication, etc.
  4. A budget estimating costs broken down by major expense category/activity and the hourly or daily rates for each member of the team.
  5. A table providing an overview of proposed timelines for implementation of the study and identification of milestones and deliverables.

We request that the above mentioned items be submitted as a single electronic file (preferably in pdf format). We further request that the file be named as per the following example: “Contractor Name RFP#8-10.”

If necessary for the selection process, CLASP may request additional information from any applicant.

Interested Implementing Partners must submit the requested information by e-mail (please include "Response to RFP #8-10" in the subject line) to Anita Eide at: aeide@clasponline.org.

All questions may be directed to Anita Eide at aeide@clasponline.org. We request all inquiries be made by email and not by phone.

Summary of Bids and Decisions

In keeping with CLASP’s commitment to a fair and transparent evaluation of all bids, we have provided a basic summary of the bids received under this RFP as well as the basic rationale for the selection.

This was a very competitive solicitation and responses were received from the following groups:

  • Centro de Ensayos, Innovación y Servicios CEIS (ES,) in consortium with SYNOVATE (ES)
  • Consumer Research Associates (UK) in consortium with Ipsos MORI (UK)/Qualitative Hothouse (UK) and ICF International (US)
  • ECOFYS (NL) in consortium with Aarhus School of Business, Aarhus University (DK)
  • Energy Institute, Johannes Kepler University, Linz (AT)
  • Energy Saving Trust (UK) in consortium with Databuild Research & Solutions (UK) and Öko-Institut e.V (DE)
  • Fraunhofer ISI (DE) in consortium with GfK Retail and Technology GmbH (DE) and Corinne Faure, Essec Business School (FR)
  • Kadence International (India)
  • National Consumer Research Centre (FI) and ECN (NL ) in consortium with GreenDependent (Hungary) and Ecoinstitut Barcelona (Spain)
  • Navigant Consulting Europe (UK) in consortium with SEVEn (CZ), SoWatt (FR/IT), Öko-Institut (DE), Motiva (FI), Escan (ES), KAPE (PL), EnEffect (BG), and Millward Brown (offices in targeted countries)

The proposals were assessed by a review committee consisting of CLASP staff and external technical experts using the assessment criteria set out in the RFP and repeated below: 

  • European and international recognition as leading expert/s on qualitative consumer energy behaviour and energy labeling related research;
  • Demonstrated experience applying market research to policy-making with extra credit for experience in the energy and environmental areas and/or past work on appliances;
  • Demonstrated experience working with or for multilateral ventures and European cooperation in the realm of consumer energy behaviour and energy labeling work;
  • Top-of-mind familiarity with the first EU Energy Labelling Directive and EU Member State implementation;
  • Track record of successful project management and implementation, with credit given for direct experience in a management role on behalf of CLASP;
  • Understanding of the requirements of the study;
  • Quality of the proposed research design and study implementation; and
  • Team Leadership, Team Composition and Project management.

Among the eight groups who applied, the review committee shortlisted the following three bids:

  • Consumer Research Associates
  • Energy Saving Trust
  • Navigant Consulting Europe

The proposals from Consumer Research Associates and Energy Savings Trust were identified as very comprehensive and of high quality, but both would require further elaboration to satisfy CLASP expectations. Based on this assessment the committee decided not to pursue them further.

The winning bid was submitted by Navigant Consulting Europe (UK) in consortium with SEVEn (CZ), SoWatt (FR/IT), Öko-Institut (DE), Motiva (FI), Escan (ES), KAPE (PL), EnEffect (BG), and Millward Brown, who has offices in all countries where fieldwork is planned. Navigant’s bid was found to gather the highest level of technical expertise and research experience in the fields essential for this study, combined with an excellent understanding of existing European labeling policies and their implementation at Member State level. The bid also demonstrated a deep understanding of the issues relating to the new and revised energy labels. The proposed research design is robust and builds on existing expertise and experience of organizations in the specific areas of interest which we trust will ensure significant value add of the results of the study.