For Immediate Release: September 9, 2016
Media Contact: Amber Pasricha Beck - 916-654-4989


Energy Commission Proposes Energy Savings for Computers and Monitors
Proposed standards could save consumers millions

SACRAMENTO - The California Energy Commission today released an updated staff report on standards for computers and monitors that could save consumers an estimated $373 million annually. This marks the start of the final comment period before the Commission will vote on the standards by the end of the year.

In California, computers and computer monitors use an estimated 5,610 gigawatt-hours of electricity, which equals about 3 percent of residential electricity use and 7 percent of commercial use. Energy Commission studies focus on achieving significant efficiency improvements when computers sit idle, wasting energy and money. The Commission’s proposal estimates energy savings from computers and monitors is equivalent to the electricity use of all homes in San Francisco.

“Computers are an everyday appliance for many Californians and waste energy when they often sit idle,” said Commissioner Andrew McAllister, who is the Energy Commission's lead on energy efficiency. “Cutting energy while no one is using a computer can save consumers millions on their utility bills, which reduces the need to generate more electricity. The proposed standards are a win-win made possible by the cooperation of so many who contributed their knowledge throughout the process.”

Working with industry, nonprofit environmental and consumer groups and utilities, the Energy Commission’s proposed standards vary by computer type–desktops and thin clients, notebooks and small-scale servers and workstations—and allow manufacturers the flexibility to choose how to comply.

The core opportunity for energy savings in computers is found in reducing the amount of energy consumed in idle modes. The proposed standards set a baseline energy use target and rely on a calculation to place a computer into categories, based on the additional technology added to the unit. The Energy Commission estimates the standards for desktop computers will add about $14 to the cost of a computer but save consumers more than $40 in electricity bills over five years. For desktop computers, the first- tier standards would take effect January 1, 2019, and the second-tier would take effect July 1, 2021.

The majority of notebook computers are already energy efficient. The proposed standards base for notebooks is 30 kilowatt hours per year and would take effect January 1, 2019. The estimated additional cost is $1 and saves consumers more than double that over four years. For small-scale servers and workstations, the component requirements and power management settings are consistent with the ENERGY STAR® 6.1 voluntary standards. The standards would take effect January 1, 2018. The estimated increase in cost for both small-scale servers and workstations is $13. Over five years, the savings would be nearly $30 for workstations and $20 for small-scale servers.

There are more than 25 million computer monitors installed in homes and businesses in California. The Energy Commission proposes a maximum on-mode requirement—based on screen area and resolution—and maximum power levels for sleep mode and off mode for monitors 17 inches and above. This measure would cost an additional $5, but would save consumers more than $30 over seven years. The monitor standards would kick in July 1, 2019.

The proposed standards for monitors provide additional leeway for specialized, low-sales-volume monitors, such as enhanced performance displays, through energy allowances. These allowances are reduced over a year and a half to drive additional energy savings.

A workshop will be held on October 10 and comments on the proposed standards can be made through October 24.

# # #

About the California Energy Commission
The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency. The agency was established by the California Legislature through the Warren-Alquist Act in 1974. It has seven core responsibilities: advancing state energy policy, encouraging energy efficiency, certifying thermal power plants, investing in energy innovation, developing renewable energy, transforming transportation, and preparing for energy emergencies.