Blog Post

California wants energy efficiency rules for game consoles, toilets

California’s per-capita energy use has remained flat for 35 years and it wants to keep that way. That’s why state regulators are now targeting gadgets such as game consoles and even toilets in an effort to set standards that will require manufactures to reduce of rate of electricity and water their products consume.

The California Energy Commission plans to set energy efficiency standards for 15 products, which also include computer monitors, pool pumps and outdoor street lights, reported the San Jose Mercury News. Manufacturers tend to find energy efficiency standards onerous, but those rules also spell opportunities for tech companies that develop ways to reduce energy use.

The state has been setting energy efficiency standards since the late 1970s, and regulators are proud to point out that California is ahead of the country in pushing manufactures to consider energy use in their product development. In January this year it approved a standard for battery chargers for cell phones, computers and other equipment. The standard will be in effect starting Feb. 1 2013 for chargers used for consumer electronics and later for other gear. California households are home to about 170 million chargers total, or 11 per home, and the new standard will reduce energy use by almost 2,200 gigawatt hours and save $300 million also each year, the commission said.

The commission already has set standards for television and home appliances such as refrigerators, air conditioners and clothes dryers.

Not only is the commission targeting electronic gadgets, it also has tackled energy efficiency rules for buildings. Last month, the commission approved standards for new home and commercial building construction that mandate the use of certain types of windows, insulation, lighting and others. The requirements include making sure the residential and commercial building roofs are designed and built to allow solar panel installations. Commercial buildings will need to install sensors to make it possible for more natural light to come through the windows.

Not surprisingly, manufactures are often not pleased by these rules. The Consumer Electronics Association has been a leading critic of California’s effort for years and said the state has used outdated data to come up with energy efficiency standards. It added manufacturers have taken their own initiatives to reduce power use in their products, and in a response to California’s standard for TVs set in 2009, the association said the standard would increase the prices of gadgets, cut jobs and cause the state to lose tax revenues.