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Electrical products to become cheaper to run and repair

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Written by: Emma Lunn
01/07/2021
New ‘right to repair’ rules mean manufacturers of electrical goods will be forced to make spare parts available to consumers.

The move aims to extend the lifespan of washing machines, TVs, fridges and other electrical items by up to 10 years.

The new rules are designed to tackle ‘built-in obsolescence’ where manufacturers deliberately build appliances to break down after a certain period to encourage consumers to buy new ones.

Manufacturers are now legally obliged to make spare parts for products available to consumers – a new legal right for repairs – so that electrical appliances can be fixed easily. The new law is designed to tackle the 1.5 million tonnes of electrical waste generated in the UK each year by preventing appliances ending up on the scrap heap sooner than they should.

Anne Marie Trevelyan, energy minister, said: “The tougher standards will ensure more of our electrical goods can be fixed rather than have to be thrown away when they stop working, putting more money back in the pockets of consumers.”

The legislative plans follow the introduction of new energy labels at the start of March, which are intended to simplify the way that energy efficiency is displayed on electrical goods. Rather than the previous system, where the bulk of appliances are classified as A+, A++ or A+++, there will now be a more straightforward scale from A-G. The government argued that the new scale will ‘raise the bar’ for each class, with very few appliances now classified as A.

Higher standards for energy efficiency are also included in the legislation, which the government claims will lead to annual savings of an average of £75 on energy bills.

Martyn Allen, technical director at Electrical Safety First, said: “Consumers will now have more rights if a problem occurs with their electrical appliance however people should avoid tackling complex electrical repairs themselves. Poor repair work can lead to an increased risk of fire or electric shock. With many appliances being complex in their design and powered by mains electricity it is important that a competent professional carries out the work.

Adam French, Which? consumer rights expert, said: “Too often electrical items end up in landfill because they are either too costly or difficult to fix, so these new rules requiring manufacturers to make spare parts more widely available are a step in the right direction and should ensure products last longer and help reduce electrical waste.

“As a next step, we want the government to extend these rules to cover more appliances, ensure the parts are available throughout the lifespan of each product and are easily affordable.”

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