Power Electronics

ENERGY STAR Adapters Expected to Reduce America’s Electric Bill

The EPA has announced that the ENERGY STAR label is now available for external power adapters that meet the agency’s newly established energy efficiency guidelines.

Consumers soon will be able to purchase a variety of products, such as cell phones, PDAs, digital cameras and camcorders, which are shipped or sold with ENERGY STAR qualified power adapters.

Eventually, these new efficient adapters will be incorporated into a wide spectrum of products, including laptops, cordless phones and office equipment, as well as other products and as replacement adapters sold separately. Products with qualified adapters will be identified by the ENERGY STAR label on product packaging, literature or store displays.

The EPA announced the first retail and manufacturing partners and showcased new adapter technology at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, on January 8. Companies working with EPA include Phihong, Lite On and Bias Power. These power adapter manufacturers alone account for more than 22% of the current power supply market. The EPA also is working with Hewlett-Packard, Samsung Telecommunications America and Panasonic.

As many as 1.5 billion power adapters are in use in the United States—about five for every American. These external power supplies deliver power to our cell phones, digital cameras, answering machines, camcorders and countless other gadgets that plug into wall outlets. In the United States, more efficient adapters have the potential to save more than 5 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy per year and prevent the release of more than 4 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions the equivalent of taking 800,000 cars off the road.

In the United States alone, total electricity flowing through external and internal power supplies is about 207 billion kWh/year, equal to about $17 billion a year, or 6% of the national electric bill. On average, ENERGY STAR-qualified power adapters will be 35% more efficient.

The EPA is promoting the most efficient adapters because they are commonly bundled with so many of today's most popular consumer electronic and information technology products. Sales of these products continue to show explosive growth worldwide. If this trend continues, the energy use from consumer electronics and small appliances could account for almost 30% of a typical home’s electricity bill by 2010. By comparison, the average household today spends 45% of its energy bill on heating and cooling, and just 6% to continuously run a refrigerator. Encouraging the use of more efficient power adapters will help stem this growing energy consumption.

The EPA first announced draft efficiency guidelines and testing procedures for power adapters at the electronics conference in Anaheim, Calif., in February 2004. The EPA finalized the guidelines in December 2004.

For more information, visit www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=ext_power_supplies.power_supplies_consumers .

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