Labels that shine a light on efficiency

Lumens. Do you get on with them?

On the occasions I have been lured into Ikea (before desperately trying to find my way out again through the dizzying maze of Swedish home furnishings), I came across the terms ‘lumens’ in a basket full of light bulbs.

I needed some light bulbs, but instead of ‘wattage’ I found ‘lumens’, ‘kw’ and ‘efficiency ratings’. All I wanted was some replacement 100w bulbs – but the electrical language was alien. Incomprehensible. I was, of course, thinking in the monetary equivalent of pounds shillings and pence.

Fortunately to help those, like me, thinking in ‘old money’, there were those energy efficiency labels that were once just the preserve of white goods and are now spreading ever wider into the commercial sphere. A good thing, too. Here we have a simple system of A-G labelling that helps denote the most efficient bulb (A) to the most inefficient (G).

That labelling system has already found its way into the car world denoting car efficiency via Vehicle Excise Duty taxation, graded from A to M. But, from the start of November, thanks to EU legislation, it’s spread to car tyres.

From November 2012 we now have a system that helps fleet managers choose the most fuel-efficient tyres for their car fleets.

The black round things that we tend to ignore until replacement time must be categorised for their performance in wet conditions (where A is the grippiest in the wet to F the worst) and from A to G on tyre fuel efficiency and the volume of external noise generated.

Fleet managers with an eye on CO2 emissions will have switched into this already, consciously or not, by choosing the most CO2 efficient cars. These are generally fitted with energy saving tyres. After all, the lower the rolling resistance, the less fuel is expended to push those tyres along the road.

But from 1 November 2012 we now have a system that helps fleet managers choose the most fuel-efficient tyres for their car fleets.

The Energy Saving Trust reckons that fuel savings of up to 7.5% are achievable. Assuming that ‘up to’ means in the best possible circumstances, if we were to reduce that figure to 3% that still represents a significant saving to an annual fleet fuel bill.

But the new tyre labels are more than just money saving indicators: they can be life-savers too.

Fleet managers should also consider the safety implications of choosing the best performing tyres in wet conditions. The difference in braking performance between an A-rated tyre (best performing) and a G rated tyre (worst) can be 18m. In football terms that’s the difference between stopping at the edge of the penalty area – or slamming into the goal keeper.

Tyres are so important to the welfare of the car and its occupants, as well as controlling fleet costs, that these new regulations are truly welcome.

They might be round and black – but these new labels have shone new light on tyres and their role in improving fleet efficiency.