Energy Use and Power Levels in New Monitors and Personal Computers

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Our research was conducted in support of the EPA ENERGY STAR Office Equipment program, whose goal is to reduce the amount of electricity consumed by office equipment in the U.S. The most energy-efficient models in each office equipment category are eligible for the ENERGY STAR label, which consumers can use to identify and select efficient products. As the efficiency of each category improves over time, the ENERGY STAR criteria need to be revised accordingly.

The purpose of this study was to provide reliable data on the energy consumption of the newest personal computers and monitors that the EPA can use to evaluate revisions to current ENERGY STAR criteria as well as to improve the accuracy of ENERGY STAR program savings estimates. We report the results of measuring the power consumption and power management capabilities of a sample of new monitors and computers. These results will be used to improve estimates of program energy savings and carbon emission reductions, and to inform revisions of the ENERGY STAR criteria for these products.

Our sample consists of 35 monitors and 26 computers manufactured between July 2000 and October 2001; it includes cathode ray tube (CRT) and liquid crystal display (LCD) monitors, Macintosh and Intelarchitecture computers, desktop and laptop computers, and integrated computer systems, in which power consumption of the computer and monitor cannot be measured separately. For each machine we measured power consumption when off, on, and in each low-power level. We identify trends in and opportunities to reduce power consumption in new personal computers and monitors.

Our results include a trend among monitor manufacturers to provide a single very low low-power level, well below the current ENERGY STAR criteria for sleep power consumption. These very low sleep power results mean that energy consumed when monitors are off or in active use has become more important in terms of contribution to the overall unit energy consumption (UEC). Current ENERGY STAR monitor and computer criteria do not specify off or on power, but our results suggest opportunities for saving energy in these modes. Also, significant differences between CRT and LCD technology, and between field-measured and manufacturer-reported power levels reveal the need for standard methods and metrics for measuring and comparing monitor power consumption.

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