When ovens realize they are being tested
Low energy consumption is a key selling point. In addition to the purchase price, usage properties and design, it is an important decision criterion when buying household appliances. The energy label, with which almost all electrical devices are labeled, provides information about energy consumption. But can you rely on that? Apparently not always. Product testers from the Stuttgart Institute for Product Research GmbH (ipi) found that cheating software is installed not only in German diesel vehicles, but also in some ovens and televisions. Such devices used fewer kilowatt hours than normal in test mode.
As part of device tests, the product testers noticed an oven, for example, which showed a strikingly different control behavior when it was operated in the energy-saving program. If the device was preheated - as prescribed in the test procedure according to European standards - then the door was opened and the device was loaded with a certain weight in the middle, this program lowered the temperature by more than 60 Kelvin for almost half an hour in the middle of the baking process. Instead of a temperature of 160 ° C, the device only heated to 100 ° C and thus consumed less electricity than in normal operation and significantly less than other devices. It achieved a lower energy efficiency class on the energy label than other identical devices.
The baking result for the small cakes that the testers prepared in this energy-saving test mode reflected the interrupted heat supply and gave a poor baking result. The cakes prepared in this way were less successful and showed a more compact consistency when sliced because the heat input in the middle of the baking process was too low.
The product testers also found a loss of quality as a result of lower energy consumption for a television. If the device had to play the test film, it recognized this test and immediately switched to a kind of energy-saving mode. Brightness, contrast and volume decreased and the energy consumption decreased significantly. Watching the test film in this way was no longer a feast for the eyes. However, the lower energy consumption here also meant that the device could be better labeled on the energy label.
The test results, which were presented at the end of February 2016 in Hamburg at the annual meeting of the household technology specialist committee of the German Society for Housekeeping. V., caused a sensation in the expert committee and sparked a lively discussion about the energy label. Even though there are obviously a few individual providers who use cheat software, the household experts reacted horrified. The industry label remarked resignedly that the energy label, which should actually show the energy consumption and should enable the comparison of identical devices, was taken to absurdity.
A solution to avoid such attempts at deception nevertheless seems to be at hand: To assess the energy consumption, the electricity consumption in the normal program should be used and no longer the lowest consumption from the energy saving program as was previously the case. If one could agree on this when revising the energy label, the breeding ground would be removed from such nonsensical energy saving programs, it was agreed. However, whether this can be implemented because energy labeling is regulated uniformly across Europe remained open. (Ute Gomm, aid)
The ipi institute is one of the largest European product testing institutes. It carries out product tests on behalf of companies and test institutes from more than 20 European countries.