California Energy Commission has passed
energy-efficiency standards for computers and monitors
in an effort to reduce power costs, becoming the first
state in the nation to adopt such rules.
regulations promise to reduce energy consumed by
computers by about one-third, saving power customers
about $373 million in utility bills by 2027, and figure
to have effects far beyond California.
and computer monitors in the state use an estimated
5,610 gigawatt-hours of electricity, representing up to
3 percent of residential electricity use and 7 percent
of commercial use.
efficiency improvements are good for consumers, good for
the electric system, good for the environment and
frankly good for the green credentials of the
manufacturers," said Andrew McAllister, a
commission member who helped guide the new rules through
a four-year process of consultations with industry that
culminated in Wednesdayís 5-0 vote in Sacramento.
first of the new standards will start Jan. 1, 2018, to
be completed in stages by July 1, 2021.
of the rulesí chief targets is desktop computers,
which use about four times as much power as a typical
laptop or notebook computer.
called "energy vampires" by efficiency
experts, desktops are switched on 77 percent of the time
but sit idle for 61 percent of those minutes, according
to a recent study from a research team at the University
of California, Irvine.
the new rules, desktops must reduce how much power they
draw by about 30 percent when idle by the beginning of
2019 and nearly 50 percent by mid-2021.
computer monitors will also be affected, with the new
rules establishing thresholds for the amount of power a
monitor or display can consume even when they are in
standards also apply to laptops, but itís estimated
that about three-quarters of notebook computers on the
market already meet the requirements.
2021, the commission estimates, the new rules will make
each desktop about $14 more expensive, but consumers
would save more than $55 over five years in reduced
will cost about $5 more but are expected to lead to $30
in savings over seven years, the commission said. It
said laptops will cost about $1 more, but that energy
savings in four years will be more than $2.
Consumer Federation of America praised the regulations
and said the cost savings more than make up for the
increase in prices.
me, the average consumer who can barely get 2 percent on
his CD today, thatís a pretty darn good
investment," Mark Cooper, the federationís
director of research, said in a teleconference after the
commission passed the rules.
from Intel Corp. and HP Inc. also took part in the
teleconference, with HP environmental compliance manager
Paul Ford calling the energy limits "ambitious but
California Energy Commission has emphasized that
manufacturers will have flexibility to meet the
rules apply only to computers in California, but the
stateís share of the computer market is so formidable
ó California by itself accounts for 25 million
computer monitors, 23 million laptops and 21 million
desktops ó the new standards almost certainly will
have ripple effects.
will have a global impact and significantly change the
way future energy-efficient desktops and all-in-one
computers are designed and manufactured," said
Andrea Deveau, vice president of state policy and
politics for TechNet, a trade group whose members
include Cisco Systems and Microsoft among its members.
Adrian Moore, vice president of policy at the Reason
Foundation, a libertarian think tank based in Los
Angeles, questioned the commissionís cost savings
estimates and said consumers already have a built-in
incentive to buy energy-efficient computers: keeping
their utility bills low.
always easy to say, ĎHey, this is a really cheap way
for people to save a lot of money,í but for some
reason, (consumers) just arenít doing it," Moore
said. "So we, the energy commission, being all wise
and powerful here in Sacramento, can make this happen
for them. Because we know as the energy commission, we
know far more about computer markets than dumb old
computer makers, much less dumb old computer
Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental
group, worked closely with the commission to develop the
Delforge, the groupís director of high-tech-sector
energy efficiency, said the savings estimates are
"relatively conservative" and that rules will
lead to huge reductions in greenhouse gas emissions,
helping California meet its aggressive climate goals.
California Energy Commission estimates, the efficiency
standards will save 2,332 gigawatt-hours per year ó
the equivalent of the power used by households in San
Francisco and San Luis Obispo counties combined.