Computers, long a symbol of the digital age, are now moving into a more earth-friendly future: California’s state energy agency voted unanimously Wednesday to approve new regulations for energy loop efficiency in desktop computers and monitors.
The rules, passed by the agency, the California Energy Commission, are the country’s first attempt to regulate the energy use of desktop computers and represent another step in the state’s efforts to drastically lower its greenhouse gas emissions to address climate change.
Computers use more energy than many other consumer electronics — the electricity used to power all of the computers in the country is the equivalent of the output of 30 large power plants emitting 65 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent every year, according to estimates from the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The new standards, some parts of which go into effect Jan. 1, 2018, would ultimately reduce carbon dioxide emissions in California by an estimated 730,000 tons, less than 1 percent of total statewide emissions, and save consumers about $370 million on electric bills annually,based on the most recent emissions data. The energy commission projects that the standards will save about as much electricity as 350,000 households use in a year.
“This has been a long time in the making,” said Pierre Delforge, who works on energy efficiency in the technology sector for the Natural Resources Defense Council, adding, “It’s a milestone, especially in terms of the energy efficiency of computers and monitors.”