Sales of inefficient vacuum cleaners banned

Vacuum cleanerImage copyright Getty Images

Sales of vacuum cleaners producing more noise and heat than suction are restricted under EU rules from today.

Vacuum cleaners using more than 900 watts and emitting more than 80 decibels will be banned when stocks run out.

Some anti-EU campaigners say homes won't be properly cleaned if people have to buy lower wattage machines.

But energy experts say the best low-power appliances clean just as well as high-wattage machines.

They say some manufacturers deliberately increased the amount of electricity their appliances use because shoppers equate high-wattage with high performance.

'Widespread misconception'

The European Environment Bureau (EEB) said:"Power doesn't always equal performance, though the misconception has become widespread.

"Some efficient models maintained high standards of dust pick-up while using significantly less energy - due to design innovation."

Vacuum cleaner salesman Howard Johnson, who works in Coventry, told BBC News:"People want a more powerful vacuum cleaner but they can't see that more power doesn't mean more suction.

"The lower power machines are perfectly adequate, and better for the planet".

Image caption Less power doesn't have to mean less suction, say experts

The EU's own website says:"With more efficient vacuum cleaners, Europe as a whole can save up to 20 TWh of electricity per year by 2020.

"This is equivalent to the annual household electricity consumption of Belgium.

"It also means over 6 million tonnes of CO2 will not be emitted - about the annual emissions of eight medium-sized power plants."

And the UK Climate Change Committee says that since 2008 electricity demand is down 17% (despite all our gadgets) and gas demand is 23% lower, thanks to tougher standards on energy efficiency in homes and appliances.

This, it says, has helped keep bills down.


But there's a question over what happens to EU energy standards after Brexit.

UKIP MEP Roger Helmer said:"By all means let's make pathetic under-powered vacuum cleaners for export to the EU.

"But we must retain the right to make and use sensible full-powered appliances in the UK.This shows why we must not agree to be bound by EU rules after Brexit."

The EEB replied:"Without EU energy efficiency rules, the UK market risks getting flooded with inefficient and cheap imports from China which waste more energy and break easily due to lower standards."

Efficiency standards are so effective at driving down bills and emissions that it's believed they will be kept after Brexit.

But the government's statement to BBC News on the issue was ambiguous.

A spokeswoman said:"Until we leave the EU, the UK government continues to implement European regulations.

"We support measures that will save households and businesses money on their energy bills."

Image caption Sir James Dyson has gone to court over the issue

Vacuum cleaner entrepreneur Sir James Dyson has been in a court battle with the EU because he says the vacuum standards test doesn't replicate real world conditions.

His spokesman told BBC News:"We agree with the principle of using standards to drive products that use less energy.

"But we think that technical innovation itself would be a better way of changing consumer behaviour.

"You can have a perfectly good vacuum cleaner running with lower energy."

The latest Dyson model does qualify under the new EU rules.

Next week the government will be presented with a major report from energy economists making the case for a big boost to the economy through energy efficiency in homes....

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Google critic fired from Google-funded research body

Margrethe VestagerImage copyright European Commission Image caption Competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said Google used its dominance in search to give it an advantage

An outspoken critic of Google has been fired from a US think tank that gets most of its funding from the search giant.

The New America Foundation sacked Barry Lynn for "imperilling the institution", reports the New York Times[1].

At the foundation, Mr Lynn headed the Open Markets group that welcomed efforts to rein in technology giants.

But the think tank said it had fired Mr Lynn for flouting its rules on openness and "institutional collegiality".

Google said it funded many groups and respected each one's independence even when it disagreed with what they said.

No control

In its report, the New York Times linked the sacking to praise by Mr Lynn's Open Markets group of the European Commission's decision to fine Google $2.8bn (£2.2bn) in June for abusing its market power.

In a statement posted on the New America Foundation website, the Open Markets researchers congratulated[2] the commission and called on US government bodies to take similar action to curb "dominant platform monopolists" such as Google, Facebook and Amazon.

Soon after the statement appeared, Mr Lynn was called to a meeting with Anne-Marie Slaughter - the head of the foundation - at which she told him that he and the other 10 Open Market staff were being fired.

An email sent by Ms Slaughter to explain the decision, and which was quoted by the newspaper, said the firing was not linked to the group's research, but it also suggested Mr Lynn was "imperilling the institution as a whole".

Image copyright Win McNamee Image caption Google, and Eric Schmidt, have given about $21m to the foundation

Speaking to the New York Times, Mr Lynn suggested the group had been fired at the behest of Google.

The New America Foundation denied this charge and in a statement given to the paper said its backers had no "influence or control" over what its staff researched or what they published.

The Open Markets researchers had left the foundation as the result of a "mutual decision" following a long period of negotiation, it said.

The Open Markets group has now set itself up as independent research organisation and is seeking funding partners.

It has also set up a web-based campaign[3] called Citizens Against Monopoly, in which it asks people to log their criticism of Google and others who, it says, seek to stifle criticism.

Soon after the newspaper article was published, the foundation posted a statement on its website[4], in which Ms Slaughter said the NYT's claims were "absolutely false".

It also released email messages between Ms Slaughter and Mr Lynn, which, it said, showed he had been "imperilling the institution" by trying to organise a conference to debate the market influence of technology giants, without inviting Google to participate, at a time when the foundation had been talking to the search giant about its support for the institution.

In a statement, Google spokeswoman Riva Sciuto said:"We support hundreds of organisations that promote a free and open internet, greater access to information, and increased opportunity."

She added:"We don't agree with every group 100% of the time, and while we sometimes respectfully disagree, we respect each group's independence, personnel decisions, and policy perspectives."...


  1. ^ reports the New York Times (
  2. ^ the Open Markets researchers congratulated (
  3. ^ a web-based campaign (
  4. ^ posted a statement on its website (

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Hyperloop pod breaks own high-speed record

Elon Musk and hyperloop tunnelImage copyright Reuters Image caption Tests this week saw prototype hyperloop pods being put through their paces on a one mile track

Tests of the futuristic hyperloop transport system have managed to propel one of its pods at 355km/h (220mph).

The tests establish a new record for the technology only days after a separate prototype hit 324km/h.

Hyperloop puts pods in an airless tunnel and seeks to accelerate them to very high speeds to cut travel times for freight and passengers.

Backers of the hyperloop idea claim that eventually the pods will travel at speeds of about 1,000 km/h.

Speed racer

The idea for the version of the hyperloop transportation system currently being developed was floated in 2013 by Tesla boss Elon Musk.This week saw the first tests of prototype carriages or pods on a one mile long test track near Los Angeles.A pod made by a German student team came top in this competition.

In an Instagram post[1], Mr Musk said that once the prototype competition was finished, the hyperloop team let a "pusher pod" travel by itself on the tunnel test track.

The pusher pod was used to get some of the prototypes moving down the track during the tests.

Running by itself, the pusher pod set the new record before things started burning, wrote Mr Musk.He described the spectacle of the pod racing down the track as "...kind of like racing with a tugboat".

Improvements to the test track might mean the pods hit 500 km/h next month, he said.

The series of tests this week suggest the technology is close to the top speed at which existing terrestrial transport technology can travel.

Earlier this month, China started letting its high-speed "Fuxing" trains travel at speeds of about 350 km/h (217mph).

It is also looking into ways to upgrade high-speed tracks to let them go faster - perhaps at speeds approaching 400km/h....


  1. ^ In an Instagram post (

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