Energy-Efficient Appliance Labeling in China: Lessons for Successful Labeling Programs in Varied Markets
Appliance ownership and production has increased dramatically in China in the past two decades. From extremely low levels in 1980, China's appliance industry has become one of the largest in the world, with sales topping U.S. $14.4 billion in 2000. In 1981, less than 1 percent of urban Chinese households owned a refrigerator; by 1998, that number had increased to over 75 percent. This dramatic increase in sales and ownership leads to an excellent opportunity to impact energy consumption in China by affecting the energy efficiency of appliances being bought and sold.
In general, Chinese consumers value energy efficiency and are knowledgeable about the operating costs of major appliances. However, the Chinese marketplace does not provide information that consumers trust about the energy consumption of specific products. Thus, several interdependent organizations have emerged in China to provide information and market supports for energy efficiency.
This paper describes the appliance market in China and the evolution of its standards and labeling programs and the agencies that implement them. It discusses the authors' work with these organizations in developing energy efficiency criteria and supporting an energy efficiency endorsement labeling program in China. It describes how the authors have used their experience with ENERGY STAR® and other programs in the U.S. to work with China to develop a successful program specific to Chinese conditions, with a particular emphasis on refrigerators. It then gives the author's market assessment of the Chinese refrigerator market and recommendations for a successful labeling program and transferable lessons for developing energy efficiency labeling programs in varied markets.
This paper is based on the authors' market research, their support in setting energy efficiency criteria in China, interviews with Chinese manufacturers, retailers, and sales staff, and the development and implementation of labeling strategies and promotion in China.