Vacuum cleaner

Action: Replace a vacuum cleaner bought before 2017

New vacuum cleaners in Europe and the UK must use less power and meet high energy efficiency standards

In 2017 new rules came into effect in Europe and the UK which limited the power consumption of vacuum cleaners. Manufacturers were forced to use lower power motors and a lot of work went into improving efficiency to make sure that the machines remained just as effective.

This means that if you bought a vacuum cleaner before 2017, it is likely to consume a lot more energy than newer machines. Vacuum cleaners bought before 2014 will consume even more power as before that there were no limits at all, and machines were hugely inefficient.

Hooray Henry

As well as the legislation, moves towards rechargeable cordless devices, lighter devices, and more general environmental awareness has led to the production of more efficient machines.

Take the classic Henry cleaner for example (pictured). Before the 2017 rules came into effect, Henry had a power rating of 1,200 watts, meaning it used a full unit of electricity in 50 minutes. The current basic model has a power rating of 620 watts, so you can vacuum for 95 minutes with the same amount of power. This means that you are using about half as much energy, which reduces demands on our power supply systems, cuts your bills, and reduces carbon emissions.

Cumulatively, this really adds up. At the time of the 2017 change, the EU estimated that there would be an overall savings of 20 TWh each year as a result of the change, across the continent.

That’s 2,000,000,000,000 units of electricity, and a huge amount of carbon saved!

  • Pre 2014 limit: none
  • Pre 2017 limit: 1,600 watts
  • Current limit: 900 watts

Modern machines

Modern machines are just as good and usually better at cleaning. Plenty of reviews at the time of the changes, and now, from respected bodies such as Which and others, will confirm this. Advances in technology have more than kept up with the reduction in power, especially with innovation around the transfer to battery powered machines, and air flow technologies developed by Dyson and others.

power station polluting
Reduce your sucking power!

Why is this important

Old machines should be replaced because we need to reduce our dependency on power grids supplied with fossil fuels, to limit global warming. We all must play our part by changing to more efficient use of power in everything that we do.

By reducing demands on our grids, our power supply companies will burn less coal, oil and gas. We need to get to the point where demand can all be met using renewable energy and (in the short term) nuclear energy.

Other advantages

Replacing an old vacuum cleaner with a new one brings other advantages too:

  • reduced energy demand and so lower carbon emissions
  • much lower running costs
  • modern devices are more effective cleaners
  • newer machines include better filters, keeping your house less dusty
  • newer machines are better for those with allergies and asthmas
  • newer machines with smaller motors are quieter
  • newer machines with smaller motors are lighter
  • many are now cordless, making the cleaning easier and quicker
  • new machines must, by law, be more durable and so last longer


When you buy any new electrical device, any old one must be recycled properly under the WEEE regulations. This means that your old machine must be returned to the distributor or manufacturer, or put into specific containers at a recycling centre. They will then be recycled to recover plastics and metals and reduce the amount of damaging materials going to landfill.

Don’t put your old vacuum cleaner in the household waste bin!

Take action

If you have a pre-2014 vacuum cleaner, it’s time for a new modern one which is energy efficient and more effective. Even pre-2017 machines should be considered for replacement. Make sure you dispose of the old one properly.

Further reading: Important Rules and Facts About Vacuum Cleaner Energy Labels

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