Power Adapters of the Future Will Save Billions, Reduce Carbon Footprint, DOE Says

ElectronicsPhotoWolfgang von BrauchitschBloomberg
Energy efficiency requirements for external power supplies used by cell phones, laptop computers, video game consoles and other electronics will increase or be set for the first time under a final rule made public by the Energy Department Feb. 3.

Under the rule, which is to become effective two years after publication in the Federal Register, “Class A” external power supplies, the most common type in use, would be required to be as much as 33 percent more efficient.

The final rule also establishes first-time efficiency standards for non-Class A external power supplies, which go beyond Class A components to convert to multiple voltages at the same time, output more than 250 watts or provide power to a motor-operated product.
More than 300 million external power supplies, which are used to convert high-voltage AC from a wall outlet to lower-voltage or DC current, are shipped in the U.S. annually, according to the Energy Department, which estimated the final rule would save consumers $3.8 billion and cut carbon dioxide emissions by 47 million metric tons over 30 years.
The new standards come as the Obama administration has placed a new emphasis on using energy efficiency to combat climate change, and has focused on completing overdue product efficiency standards as well as crafting ones for appliances that are not currently regulated.
The external power supply standards, originally due to be published in July 2011, were held up during extensive review at the White House Office of Management and Budget.
“Appliance efficiency standards and high quality appliances go hand-in-hand, and represent a huge opportunity to help families and businesses save money by saving energy,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “By working with industry and efficiency groups over the last three decades, we've adopted commonsense appliance standards that are saving billions of dollars while enhancing our energy security.”
Battery Charger Standards Not Included
In the rule, the Energy Department said it was deferring action on setting efficiency standards for battery chargers, an appliance that had been included with external power supplies in a proposed version of the rule published in 2012.
According to the Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP), a Boston-based nonprofit, those battery charger standards would have been weaker than standards that took effect in California and were adopted by Oregon.
“By deferring federal action, DOE has allowed the stronger state standards to stay in place,” Andrew deLaski, the group's executive director, wrote in a blogpost. “Since national standards generally preempt state standards, ASAP and our coalition of efficiency supporters had argued that a de facto national standard weaker than the state levels would have taken the U.S. backwards on energy efficiency.”
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