The U.S. EPA continues on their quest to reduce computer energy waste.
A couple of weeks ago, I attended a stakeholder meeting held to discuss draft 2, version 2 of the ENERGY STAR® Program Requirements for Computers. Over the years, computer program specs have gotten more comprehensive (and complicated). Early versions consisted of simple modal requirements (i.e. standby power limits); recent versions now specify a combination of the maximum Typical Energy Consumption (TEC) of a computer and the minimum efficiency of its internal or external power supply.
The discussion during the recent meeting suggested that this trend will continue. As new product offerings have become available on the market, (i.e. slates (iPad or similar) and integrated display desktops), new metrics and adders are being proposed to maximize efficiency without impacting features. For example, version 6′s maximum TEC calculation now includes an adder for the power required by an integrated display. But, if it’s an “enhanced” integrated display (having a contrast ratio of ≥ 60:1, a native resolution of ≥ 2.3 megapixel, and a color gamut of at least sRGB), a 1.2 multiplier to that adder is allowed. For battery-powered slates, because they are inherently efficient, the EPA is considering simply using their revised battery charger system program metric, currently in the final stages of development.
Even standard desktop and notebook computers will most likely see changes in the way their TEC is calculated. Recent studies have shown that a computer spends a good portion of its time (and energy) in idle mode (computer is booted up, user profile created, and ready to be used, but the user isn’t at the computer). While the current version (5.2) included idle mode power consumption in its TEC calculation, version 6′s proposed formula breaks up idle mode into two separate modes (short and long) to address the specific power requirements of each mode separately.
Regarding power supplies, the EPA is suggesting that efficiency requirements remain unchanged. For internal power supplies, that equates to Computer Savers Computing Initiative’s Bronze level (85% minimum efficiency rating at 50% of rated output and 82% minimum efficiency at 20% and 100% of rated output, with a power factor of at ≥ 0.9. External power supplies (EPSs) must meet the level V requirements as described in ENERGY STAR’s now retired EPS v2.0 program. However, this could be tightened up significantly in the future as stricter Federal EPS standards are likely to become effective in 2015 (see my March 22, 2012 blog for more info).
The current plan is to finalize version 6 specifications by September 2012 with an effective date most likely in the second half of 2013.
To register as a stakeholder or just download a copy of the current draft requirements, test procedures, and the recent webinar presentation, click here.