CLASP Supports Design of Super-efficient Label Options for India’s SEEP Program
The Super-Efficient Equipment Program (SEEP), a national initiative of India’s Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), is preparing to administer a new endorsement label to highly efficient appliances in India. The new “Super Efficient Appliance” (SEA) label will indicate to consumers that the labeled product is significantly more efficient than others on the market – including products that already display BEE’s 5-star comparative label or the BEE endorsement label. The label will first be applied to ceiling fans, and later to air conditioners. Ceiling fans account for about 70% of all fans on India’s market and will consume over 8 TWh of energy in 2014. SEEP will provide financial incentives to manufacturers who produce ceiling fans that meet the specifications of the SEA label; specifically, the product must consume 30-50% less energy than a typical ceiling fan while delivering the same level of comfort to consumers.
In support of SEEP, CLASP and Market Xcel Data Matrix conducted a pan-India survey including consumers, manufacturers, policymakers, retailers, and energy consultants. Drawing on cues from 1985 interviews and 22 focus group discussions, the project team developed several prototypes with the objective of creating a label that would be appealing, understandable, effective in promoting the purchase of super-efficient products, and complementary to BEE’s existing energy labels.
A group of stakeholders including the World Bank, Prayas Energy Group, and the Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation were also consulted on the findings of the first phase of focus groups, and designs were adjusted according to their feedback. The final designs, ranked the highest among consumers, are shown below.
In addition to informing the label design, the survey revealed several important characteristics in consumer purchasing of ceiling fans:
- As the first point of contact for consumers, retailers were considered imperative to generating awareness about the labeling program.
- Endorsement by a trustworthy government body, such as BEE, engendered confidence in the label’s credibility
- Very few people understood technical information on the label. Consumers were interested in less information and more visual cues, in addition to per-hour energy consumption.
- While Indian consumers considered electricity consumption to highly be important for appliances such as air conditioners and refrigerators, they did not consider it very important for fans.
- In order of priority, factors influencing consumer purchase decisions on ceiling fans were: appearance, brand, price, warranty, and word of mouth.
- The label was expected to educate consumers by stating power saved per hour versus energy consumed. However, consumers’ main concerns were monetary savings, so this aspect was emphasized in the label designs.
- For Indian consumers, important factors in energy label design were:
- Not impinging on the aesthetic of the product
- The presence of stars, as on the BEE comparative label. Along with the BEE logo, these were the most recognizable factors in the existing energy labels.
- Visual appeal
- Not easily imitated or counterfeited
- Clearly visible on the product
In addition to promoting the most energy efficient products on the Indian market, the energy saved due to SEA-labeled ceiling fans will directly reduce electricity bills for consumers. The final label is expected to be chosen this year.
SEEP seeks to transform markets towards energy efficient products and reduce costs to consumers through demand side management activities. Its core idea is to provide financial incentives to manufacturers so that they can develop, produce and sell super-efficient equipment and appliances at prices comparable to an average appliance. The program is voluntary and manufacturers will bid for the amount of financial incentive as well as the total production quota.
CLASP has assisted BEE for over a decade with all aspects of its energy efficiency label design, implementation, evaluation, and improvement. Following the launch of BEE’s 5-star label for energy efficient refrigerators and air conditioners in 2006, for example, CLASP and its partner Consumer VOICE – a consumer education non-profit – conducted a nationwide outreach campaign in 14 Indian cities to raise consumer awareness about the program. In 2010, CLASP provided technical support and global good practice to BEE to design and implement its new endorsement label for laptop computers.