This forum is about wrong numbers in science, politics and the media. It respects good science and good English.
Reading JEB's piece "The scientific simpletons strike again – Brussels sprouts a new absurdity" (which gave rise to the Number of the Month for August 2014), it does appear on the face of it that the EU are a bunch of simpletons who don't understand the difference between energy and power. However I suspect that the EU might have prescribed some energy consumption limits on new vacuum cleaners as well, but the mainstream news media hasn't bothered to report it.
This appears to be the relevant EU document:
It looks like the annual energy limit for new vacuum cleaners for the average EU household is required to be 62KWh/year to go along with the power limit of 1600W from the beginning of September 2014. The annual energy consumption appears to be calculated using a 'magic formula' given in Annex II Section 3 which is based on a set of arbitrary assumptions like a vacuum cleaner being used 50 times per year for one hour, the average EU home having a floor space of 87 square metres, and each spot on the floor has the vacuum cleaner run over it four times. So it appears that the EU is aware of the difference between energy and power, but the MSM hasn't reported the energy limit criterion presumably because it is too complicated for them to follow or it might be too boring to describe in a newspaper.
I would imagine the idea behind prescribing a power limit for vacuum cleaners is that the EU is assuming that everybody dedicates a fixed amount of time to a cleaning task, like one hour per week. But a lot of people will simply run a vacuum cleaner until they think that a carpet is sufficiently clean.
From reading the EU document there appear to be some loopholes that a small section of the population might exploit to get round the 1600w ban. The new rules do not apply to wet and dry, industrial, robot and battery-operated vacuum cleaners. Out of those, I think wet and dry cleaners would be the most likely option for a domestic consumer wanting a higher power vacuum cleaner.
There was one article which claimed that this was not simply about the energy consumed but about more efficient appliances now being available.
I can't recall where but some pretty dramatic claims were made for washing machines that used far less power, far less water and washed clothes cleaner.
I'm not sure a manufacturer could get these claims past trading standards but the EU is another matter.
I've got a feeling J that you're talking about a recent rather strange article on this topic by the Daily Telegraph's Christopher Booker. JEB actually mentions this particular article in a recent post "Meanwhile, back at the BBC".
I can't recall an article ever written by Booker where I disagree with what he's saying as much as this one. My main comments on it are:
1) Booker seems to be signing up to the EU's view that increased energy efficiency automatically saves energy. This whole issue is quite a bit more complicated, if you take account of something called the "Jevons Paradox" described in this Wikipedia article:
"In economics, the Jevons paradox is the proposition that as technology progresses, the increase in efficiency with which a resource is used tends to increase (rather than decrease) the rate of consumption of that resource. In 1865, the English economist William Stanley Jevons observed that technological improvements that increased the efficiency of coal-use led to the increased consumption of coal in a wide range of industries. He argued that, contrary to common intuition, technological improvements could not be relied upon to reduce fuel consumption."
2) Booker seems to be treating James Dyson as being an unbiased authority figure. In modern politically-correct Britain, Dyson seems to have managed to get himself regarded as Britain's greatest living engineer or inventor (with the man who invented the wind-up radio, Trevor Bayliss, possibly the runner-up). As I understand it, Dyson lobbied the EU to have a tougher 700w power limit imposed for vacuum cleaners rather than the recently imposed 1600W limit. Booker seems to think that Dyson is only interested in technical progress and meeting engineering challenges, but it should be noted that a tougher power limit might put some of Dyson's competitors, like smaller firms and less technically adept firms, out of business.
3) Booker is also trying to claim that high power vacuum cleaners (and old-style incandescent light bulbs) have not been banned, but I suspect that the EU's actions will result in a large drop in future sales, which would have to be regarded as an effective ban. You can still buy incandescent light bulbs via the internet, and I've heard that these are mainly industrial versions of the bulb (which have a better shock and vibration resistance than the domestic version, a useful feature for buying by mail order), but I suspect that overall sales of incandescent light bulbs are only a small fraction of what they were a few years ago.
4) Booker is arguing that domestic consumers can still buy commercial or industrial vacuum cleaners, but the EU directive actually does apply to commercial cleaners as well, and industrial vacuum cleaners would I think be a bit expensive and too large in size for domestic use. The definition of an industrial vacuum cleaner in the EU directive is "a vacuum cleaner designed to be part of a production process, designed for removing hazardous material, designed for removing heavy dust from building, foundry, mining or food industry, part of an industrial machine or tool and/or a commercial vacuum cleaner with a head width exceeding 0.5 metres". THe difference between an industrial and domestic vacuum cleaner is going to be a lot bigger than the difference between an industrial and domestic version of an incandescent light bulb.