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Why Vacuum Cleaners May Get Less Powerful And More Expensive

European Union regulations will now require lower maximum voltage on vacuums. It may making cleaning slower, purchase prices higher, but hopefully long-term energy saving benefits.

Well, this sucks.
Well, this sucks.
Sandra Riccio

TURIN — First it was the light bulbs: They were too energy-intensive. Then it was fans and dryers. Now the European Union"s ongoing stand against powerful domestic enemies is taking aim at super-charged vacuum cleaners.

Taking effect Sept. 1, the EU is pulling the plug on vacuum cleaners that eat up too much electricity, banning the sale of models that exceed 1,600 watts.

In 2017, Brussels will lower the maximum again, down to 900 watts — which has been the manufacturers' competitive standard until now. Even the noise levels will be adjusted and must not be higher than 80 decibels. This really is a revolution because there are still many models on the market that exceed 2,000 watts.

The EU's aim is to reduce energy waste; but what does it change for individual families? Will these lower wattage vacuums still do our chores, or will we suddenly find ourselves taking twice as long to clean the carpets and floors?

The EU insists that the new legislation won't affect the appliance's efficiency, but will on the contrary improve it. The new regulations already have precise indications on the suction levels of the devices.

What is certain is that the electricity consumption of one of the most frequently used appliances in European homes will drop significantly. Statistics show that, on average, we use our vacuums for an hour per month.

From now on, each new unit must display a label that clearly shows its consumption — just like on refrigerators and washing machines. Furthermore, the motor must be guaranteed for at least 500 hours of performance. Up until now there had been no clear rules on the average life of a machine, post-purchase.

Wallets and waffles

With our "super green" vacuums, we'll save on our electricity bills between one-third and one-half of what traditional devices consume. Instead, we'll have to fork out more money at the time of purchase. The first high-efficiency models on the market are priced around 200 euros — compared to an average model today that goes for between 60 and 80 euros.

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Photo: Matty Ring

Currently, there are not many on the market, and so new technologies will have to be exploited to give the same yield.

It's a little bit like what happened to the fans: Those deemed by the EU as best-performing halved consumption, but the prices were much higher than before. At the end of the day, will we have to spend more? It's hard to say.

While the news is a major headache for manufacturers, it has actually taken 12 years for industries to accept the regulatory framework. Those who oppose the rule include British tech giant Dyson, who have appealed to the EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg. With its famously bagless appliances, it will still be penalized. On the other hand, the robot vacuum cleaners that are becoming increasingly popular in Italian homes are completely excluded from the directive.

All told, there are already some 30 other appliance products under Brussels' magnifying glass. Next on the plate, the EU will arrive at our breakfast table, with new regulations on American-style coffee machines. Beginning Jan. 1, 2015, the plate warmers will have to automatically turn off after five minutes. This will also apply to espresso machines and waffle makers. The smartest of the smart appliances will make sure to turn themselves off after we've finished breakfast.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Nuclear Card And Firing Squads: Lukashenko's Long Game To Retain Power

A few weeks after an explosion at a military field in Belarus, Vladimir Putin announced plans to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus. There is a connection, even if Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko is walking a tight rope of domestic control and keeping Putin satisfied.

Image of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko welcoming Russian President Vladimir Putin in his arms.

Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko welcoming his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at Minsk National Airport.

Igar Ilyash


Back on the afternoon of February 26, local Belarus media reported explosions at the military airfield in Machulishchy, near Minsk, and increased activity of military services. Soon after, the BYPOL association, created by former security forces to fight the regime of Alexander Lukashenko,, announced that Belarusian partisans had used drones to attack a Russian A-50U long-range radar detection aircraft.

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Neither Minsk nor Moscow acknowledged that such a valuable aircraft had been disabled. However, a few days later, the A-50U left the territory of Belarus for repairs.

The day after the explosions, Lukashenko convened a meeting of the security forces. He looked agitated, demanding "the strictest discipline" and spoke vaguely about some "internal events" and attempts to "stir up" the situation in Belarus. The Belarusian authorities publicly acknowledged the sabotage only on March 7.

That same day, Lukashenko accused the Ukrainian special services of organizing the terrorist attack in Machulishchy. "Well, the challenge has been met," he declared, before quickly clarifying that he did not intend to use the incident to draw Belarus into war. "If you think that throwing this challenge will drag us into a war that is already going on all over Europe, you are mistaken."

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