Energy consumption labels and classification
Domestic appliances such as refrigerators, freezers and combined models are required by European Union (EU) law to carry a label indicating their energy efficiency.

This initiative from the European Commission was first introduced in September 1995 and was aimed at reducing energy consumption in the union by creating a direct commercial impact for manufacturers.

The EU Energy Labelling scheme requires labels to be fixed to certain electrical household appliances for sale or hire within the EU, regardless of whether they are made in the EU. For refrigerators and freezers, the label indicates the estimated energy consumption (kWh/year), noise level (dB) and volume (liter) based upon standardized operational testing conditions. The latter enables different products to be compared on the basis of their energy efficiency and other performance criteria.

A high energy efficiency rating indicates significant savings can be made on the consumers' electricity bill. Originally, seven classifications were used to indicate the energy efficiency of the appliance, ranging from "A" for the most energy efficient models to "G" for the least energy efficient models.

In September 1999, the energy consumption of the average refrigerator and freezers sold within the European Union was reduced by 15 percent due to the abolition of the least energy efficient classes, ie classes D to G (except for classes D and E for chest-freezers).

The relevant European laws specify that there will be a regular revision of the labelling requirements as well as of the standard. It is anticipated that this revision will take place in 2001/2002, to take effect around 2003.

Some countries in eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East use a similar or even the same energy label as the EU, with similar or identical requirements on noise and energy efficiency requirements.