19 December 2016

California sets computer energy efficiency limits

The California state energy commission has announced its adoption of efficiency standards for computers and monitors.

The regulations will limit the amount of energy computers and small servers can use when idle, asleep or turned off, whilst regulations for monitors will limit the amount of energy the apparatus uses when turned on.

The limits will go into effect over the course of three years, starting from January 2018, and, once completed, could save consumers an estimated US $373 million annually.

It is estimated that computers in California use more than 5,600 GWh of electricity – totalling 3 per cent of residential electricity use and 7 per cent of commercial use.

Californian Energy Commissioner, Andrew McAllister, said: "It's common sense that electronic equipment ought to consume a minimal amount of energy when it is not being used."

Although the regulations will cause an increase in computer prices, the commission believes that the overall savings in energy costs will outweigh any upfront price increases.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that while California is the first state to apply such regulations, they will have an important effect on the whole country: "the sheer size of the state's share of the computer market is so formidable — California by itself accounts for 25 million computer monitors, 23 million laptops and 21 million desktops — the new standards will have ripple effects across the country and beyond."

Andrea Deveau, Vice President of trade group TechNet, said: "It will have a global impact and significantly change the way future energy-efficient desktops and all-in-one computers are designed and manufactured.”

Until now, there has been no mandatory energy efficiency standard for electronics, although there has been a voluntary efficiency certification known as Energy Star.

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