The California Energy Commission has proposed new efficiency standards for computers and monitors.
The Commission says the standards would save millions of dollars every year in energy costs.
Energy Commissioner Andrew McAllister says when grouped together, computers and monitors are among the leading power drains in California, and most sit idle, wasting energy and money while not in use.
"There's already a ton of technology in many devices that already would comply with the proposed standards, and it's really just kind of bringing up everyone to a reasonable bar of efficiency," said McAllister.
McAllister said the standards would mean a "slight increase" in manufacturing costs - about $2 for a desktop unit, $1 for a notebook computer.
"Our analysis shows that these incremental investments are cost effective from the customers' perspective," said McAllister "So, the savings over the anticipated lifetime of the device are much greater than the small incremental investment in the price of the device."
He said the proposed changes vary by computer type and would not affect the functionality of any device.
The Energy Commission has scheduled an April 15 workshop in Sacramento to take comments on the proposed standards.
Pierre Delforge, the Natural Resources Defense Council’s director of high tech sector energy efficiency, called the proposal “a huge development” in a blog post.
“In the meantime, they [California standards] would essentially become de facto national energy-saving standards because with 38 million inhabitants, the Golden State is home to one-eighth of America's consumers. The reality is that manufacturers are unlikely to make computers that meet the standards exclusively for the California market because it's too costly to stock different models for different states.
So minimum efficiency levels set in California have an impact on devices sold across the nation, and potentially the globe. Furthermore, where California leads, other states (and sometimes even the federal government) often follow.”
Delforge said computers, including monitors and signage displays, use “roughly 12 billion kilowatt hours annually in California, according to the CEC. That's enough to power all the residences in Los Angeles for an entire year.”