New Energy Star Guidelines for Computers in Effect


Energy Star energy-efficient computer performance guidelines officially got a little stricter today. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy just upgraded the new Energy Star labeling program for computers to version 4, which requires even greater efficiency for compliant computers.

The EPA announced the guidelines last October, and they go into effect today. The EPA thinks that the move could 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 cars,” according to a press release.

There’s a long list of guidelines, but some of the main ones are that a qualifying computer’s internal power supply has to have 80% efficiency. Also the computer must be shipped with a computer’s sleep mode set to 30 minutes and a display’s sleep mode set for 15 minutes.

We chatted with Energy Star Product Manager Katharine Kaplan about the differences in the older guidelines and the newer ones. Kaplan says that most manufacturers could meet the older requirements – about 98%, she said. Under the new guidelines Kaplan predicts that only the top 25% of energy efficient products will likely comply.

“We’re raising the bar,” Katharine Kaplan, Energy Star Product Manager.

For manufacturers, as of this morning all newly qualified products must meet the new requirements. But for consumers, there will be several months where products qualified under the old guidelines will still be in the distribution pipeline.

Energy Star labels won’t be removed on older-generation approved products that are already in stores, but if consumers want to make sure you have version 4 Energy Star, check out the web site for a list of version 4 products.

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