Energy Star Program Tightens Requirements for Computers

July 25, 2007

The Energy Star program has stiffened its requirements for computers that carry the Energy Star label. As of July 20th, computers must meet strict energy-use criteria in three operating modes: while in use, in sleep mode, and when turned off (in standby mode). To ensure these modes are actually used, all products must be shipped with the display set to go to sleep mode when inactive for 15 minutes or less, and with the computer set to go to sleep mode when inactive for 30 minutes or less (desktop-derived servers are exempt from the latter requirement). Computers must also employ more energy-efficient internal and external power supplies. The new specifications apply to a wide variety of products, including desktop and laptop computers, integrated computer systems (desktop systems in which the computer and display receive their power from one cord), desktop-derived servers, workstations, and game consoles. The Energy Star is a joint program of DOE and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

As noted on the Energy Star Web site, only the most energy-efficient computers will meet the new specifications, so consumers can initially expect to see fewer computer models bearing the Energy Star label. The site currently lists 118 products that meet the new criteria, but most are laptop computers, which have always been designed for energy efficiency in order to extend their battery life. Only eight models of desktop computers and two integrated computers are currently included on the list. But as manufacturers adjust to the new computer criteria, the new Energy Star-qualified computers are expected to save consumers and businesses more than $1.8 billion in energy costs over the next 5 years and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equal to the annual emissions of 2.7 million vehicles. See the announcement, the qualified product list (Excel 39 KB), the key criteria, and the full criteria (PDF 257 KB). Download Adobe Reader.