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Your Desktop Computer Is Wasting a Surprising Amount of Energy While You're Not ­sing It


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Desktop computers and monitors have not increased in energy efficiency as other electronics have.

The California Energy Commission wants to cut the amount of power desktop PCs consume while idle in half.

Credit: iStock

The California Energy Commission (CEC) recently released a set of draft standards aimed at increasing the energy efficiency of desktop computers and monitors.

The CEC estimates computers, monitors, and signage displays account for 5 percent of the electricity used in the state; in some commercial buildings and offices, that rises to more than 10 percent. The CEC estimates its proposed standards could cut electricity bills by $340 million.

The new rules particularly target the amount of energy desktop computers consume while they are idle. A CEC study from 2014 estimated the average desktop computer spends 61 percent of the time "on but user-inactive." The commission wants to cut the amount of power desktops consume while idle by half starting in 2018.

The proposed standards have been welcomed by organizations such as the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Consumer Federation of America. However, the Consumer Electronics Association's Doug Johnson says a standards-based approach to energy efficiency in computers is a bad fit, noting the industry is constantly improving energy efficiency as a matter of course.

Critics counter that although this may be the case with laptops, tablets, and other electronic devices, desktops in particular have not kept up with increasing efficiency in other parts of the industry.

From The Washington Post
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