Computer energy manage

California Energy Commission Votes on Computer and Monitor Rules

computer energy manageAmong the biggest consumers of electricity by businesses are computers and monitors. The California Energy Commission has spent the past few years working on standards aimed at reducing this energy use. The impact will be great — and may extend far beyond The Golden State.

The final rules, which were slightly tweaked since a draft report was released this spring, were adopted today.  Andrew McAllister, commissioner, California Energy Commissioner, in a statement supplied to Energy Manager Today by the CEC  before the vote, said that both end users and the grid will be winners. “Energy efficiency unlocks millions in utility bill savings for consumers and lightens the load on our electricity system,” the statement said. “Reducing the power [requirements] of electronic equipment when not being used is common sense.” In April, Energy Manager Today covered a draft report on the rules.

A good deal of the savings will come from determining how quickly a PC goes into sleep mode and the amount of energy it uses when it does, according to Mark Cooper, the Director of Research for the Consumer Federation of America. Sleep mode changes seem like small details. They are not, however, when the number of times a device enters such a state daily and the millions and millions of devices that do so are considered.

The savings, in industrial and, especially, commercial buildings will be great. The CEC says that the rules, which will impact the manufacture of desktop PCs, would save 2,332 gigawatt hours of electricity annually and potentially reduce utility bills by $370 million once the older devices have cycled out of the marketplace.

The CEC says that on average changes to Tier 1 devices would save $40 over five years. About $10 will be added to the average selling price of the unit. Tier 2 hike the savings to $55 and the cost to $14. Workstations will save $30 and small-scale servers $20 over five years. Both will cost $13 more to price. Computer monitors will save $30 over seven years, with an incremental manufacturing cost of only $5, according to the CEC. High end monitors are exempt from the new rules, according to Cooper.

Cooper says that the CEC is not dictating how the computer manufacturers reduce consumption, just that they do so by the stipulated dates. They will take effect in five phases: Workstations and small scale servers (Jan. 1 2018); notebooks and tier 1 desktops (January 1, 2019); tier 1 computer monitors (July 1, 2019); tier 2 computer monitors (Jan. 1, 2021) and tier 2 desktops (July 1, 2021).

It is highly likely that these changes will have impact beyond California. Cooper points out that the California market is so massive that if it was a country, it would represent the sixth biggest economy in the world. Thus, it is entirely possible that the computer industry – which Cooper said cooperated in crafting the new California standards – will adopt them across the board. “California is extremely important,” Cooper said. “It always has played a leadership role. Look at the hybrid. They didn’t exist until California said they wanted lower emissions.”

The computer industry has a head start as it plans to meet the new rules. The telecommunications industry has gone mobile during the past decade. For that reason, a tremendous amount of research and development has been done energy consumption and efficiency. Indeed, at one point, power limitations were seen as a serious threat to the mobile sector’s future.

The bottom line is that the telecommunications sector knows a tremendous amount about energy. Much of that know how can be put to good use reducing device demand.

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