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External Power Supplies to Use Less Electricity

Consumer electronics, such as laptops and cell phones, are more energy efficient with lower standby power requirements in new electronic equipment.

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california poppies wildflowers native ecosystem SACRAMENTO -- Californians save money and electricity with regulations that make consumer electronics, such as laptops and cell phones, more energy efficient. The regulations, approved by the California Energy Commission in December 2004, will limit the amount of electricity used while electronic devices are on "standby power," and are a significant step toward meeting the state's 20 percent renewable energy goal by 2010.

"California's standard for external power supplies is now the gold standard," said California Energy Commissioner Arthur Rosenfeld. "This kind of approach to conservation continues to make California the leader in energy efficiency. And, slaying 'energy vampires' at home is a very good start to reduce greenhouse gases and our collective carbon footprint."

The conservation standards, known as Title 20, target "standby power" and reduce the ever-increasing consumption of residential electricity. Standby power is defined as the power consumed by an appliance during the lowest possible electricity consuming mode. The new regulations mandate that external power supplies sold in California must draw only 1/2-watt of energy. Previously, such power supplies could draw as much as five watts of energy.

External power supplies are used to power laptop computers, cellular telephones, printers, scanners, personal digital assistants, and digital cameras. The average California household has 10 or more external power supplies adding 10-15 percent to monthly electric bills. This, coupled with other standby losses (i.e. televisions, garage door openers), may cost consumers as much as $75 annually in wasted electricity.


  • Many newer televisions, computer printers, and other high-tech consumer electronics still draw power even when switched off. Consider plugging these devices into a power strip and turning off the strip.
  • Consider buying ENERGY STAR® appliances. For example, ENERGY STAR televisions can save 75 percent of standby electricity losses.
  • Replace old, heavy chargers with new chargers.
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Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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