Policy

This sucks! The EU vacuum wars just got ugly

By Oliver Smith 12 May 2017
Summary

Forget ‘dieselgate’, the vacuum world is in turmoil over ‘dustgate’.

It’s an emissions scandal being compared to Volkswagen’s dodgy diesel tests.

This time it’s the vacuum industry in the spotlight after the European Court of Justice ruled that more rigorous testing of cleaners must be introduced.

Concerns had been voiced, most vocally by British engineering giant Dyson, that many vacuums were sweeping up A-grade energy ratings unfairly.

Dyson has even alleged that some cleaners are being built with ‘defeat devices’ which detect when they’re being tested and to use far less power.

Read more: Why are all the gadgets in our lives faking it?

Dustgate

The crux of the debate comes down to, you guessed it, dust.

Until now the EU testing of vacuums to determine their energy usage rating has involved simply switching them on… and back off. No actual vacuuming involved.

Dyson’s argument has been that many vacuums are designed to run at a much lower power when no dust is detected, then ramp up their energy usage in real world testing.

The ECJ yesterday decided that Dyson’s argument was sound and that vacuums should be tested with dust to determine their energy use, as they would be used in the real world.

Max Conze, CEO of Dyson, heralded the dustgate victory as “a rare and historic win for consumers” to overturn an energy test that was “irrelevant and misleading”.

Ultimately this should result in more energy-efficient vacuums being more accurately labelled as such, a win for consumers and the environment.

For dodgy vacuum cleaner makers who have been selling ‘environmentally-friendly’ cleaners with A-grade energy ratings, we imagine this news must suck.