New energy labels are being rolled out across Europe in a bid to help consumers cut their energy bills and carbon footprint.
The new labelling rules, introduced on Monday, are designed to allow people to distinguish more clearly between the most energy-efficient products.
They will now use a simpler A to G scale, with the former four extra A+ categories disappearing altogether.
“It is a victory for consumers to see the new label finally sweep over the shelves across Europe," said Monique Goyens, director-general of the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC).
"Consumer organisations have long called on the EU to get rid of the ‘plus’ classes that had become misleading.
"Fewer than one in four consumers understood that an ‘A+’ fridge was the least performing on the market.
"As such, it was high time for a label overhaul that would make it easier for consumers to spot the most energy-efficient appliances and save money. ”
The new labels will initially apply to four product categories – fridges and freezers, dishwashers, washing machines, and TVs.
Light bulbs and lamps will then follow on September 1, with other products changing in the coming years.
But for now, in order to leave room for the development of more energy-efficient products, the European Commission says the Class A category will remain empty.
“We welcome the return to the clear and straightforward message to consumers but would have preferred a swifter transition in the shops," said Stephen Russell, secretary-general of ANEC, the European consumer voice in standardisation.
"On 1 March, only five appliances that most of us own at home will get the new label.
"That means consumers may be confused, as the old and the new labels will coexist in shops for some time.”