WASHINGTON-California is taking the first steps toward setting new goals for a growing source of energy waste in the state, say top consumer experts. Today the California Energy Commission (CEC) made public new proposed energy efficiency standards for computers, monitors and displays, which could save California consumers $430 million annually on their utility bills by the year 2023.
“We applaud the California Energy Commission for proposing new standards that appear to be consumer and industry friendly, will save energy and lower total pocketbook costs,” said Mark Cooper, director of research for the Consumer Federation of America (CFA). “We will examine the standards in detail and look forward to participating in the proceeding, but our initial reading leads us to conclude that the proposed standards exhibit the characteristics that our research shows result in effective consumer and energy savings.”
Computers, monitors and displays in California represent about five-percent of electricity consumption in the commercial and residential sector, according to the CEC.

A 2014 analysis by CFA found that between the years 2000 and 2013, the amount of electricity gobbled up by computers, game consoles and network connectivity devices increased more than five-fold in the U.S., reaching an average of 800 kWh per year per household.  The proposed standards, projected by the state to save enough energy to power all the homes in San Francisco county in 2013, call for significant energy efficiency innovation in desk-top computers starting in 2018, upgrades to small-scale servers and workstations in 2017, and efficiency improvements to the most inefficient notebook computers starting in 2017.  
“California has set the energy efficiency bar for the nation on everything from vehicles to buildings to refrigerators. A consumer-driven standard for desk-top computer efficiency should do no less,” said Shannon Baker-Branstetter, policy counsel for Consumers Union, the policy arm of Consumer Reports.
CFA and CU find that the targets now being proposed by the CEC are:
* Strong and reasonable.
* Consistent with the marketplace.
* Afford manufacturers considerable flexibility, thereby stimulating competition to meet the standards in the least cost manner.
* In line with regulations being adopted globally, but exercises leadership in achieving energy savings and environmental goals.
“As this important proceeding commences, we must again thank Governor Brown for vetoing a piece of legislation (AB 2581) that would have certainly delayed this day and likely weakened the standards that the Commission would have proposed. We hope that this process will proceed quickly and provide the model for developing standards across the full array of household digital devices that account for a large and growing part of consumer electricity bills,” said Cooper.
The California Energy Commission plans to hold a workshop on April 15, 2015 to discuss the contents of its new analysis and proposal. The proposed new standards are part of the Title 20 proceedings to increase energy efficiency in appliances sold in California. California energy efficiency policies have saved consumers more than $74 billion since Title 20 was first adopted in the 1970s.

*News Release