Power Efficiency Guide

Ultimate Guide to Power Efficiency

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Car owners eventually make comparisons about performance and fuel efficiency among their vehicles. It is common knowledge that a Sport Utility Vehicle travels fewer miles on a gallon of fuel than a subcompact car. This is based on the vehicle's weight, efficiency of the vehicle's engine, and other factors. Using the larger vehicle to haul large loads makes sense. However, using it for a single person to drive back and forth to work is not an efficient choice. We have all used equipment that we considered to be efficient energy users, as well as similar devices that seemed to burn through fuel quickly and provide less service.

However, whereas many of us have personal experience purchasing fuel for our cars and know the cost, we do not have personal knowledge of the amount of energy used by a specific piece of office equipment. Without the appropriate measurement equipment, none of us can readily determine the amount of energy a device uses. Until the recent rise in energy costs, few IT professionals even bothered to ask.

People rarely stop to consider the complexities of powering their computers. They just turn it on and use it as needed. How it works or its efficiencies of power usage compared to other units is not a concern. So long as it is available when needed, the operator is content. Yet just as cars have different levels of energy usage, so do electronic devices.

So how does someone who purchases electronic equipment know which units are efficient and which ones are wasteful? The ENERGY STAR program determines this for them. It was created to assist consumers in identifying the units that cost the least to operate.


ENERGY STAR began as a 1991 U.S. Department of Energy "Green Lights" program. This was an effort to persuade businesses to convert to the use of efficient lighting. In 1992, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created "ENERGY STAR" as a voluntary labeling program for manufacturers of energy-efficient devices. It promoted energy efficiency among home and commercial users, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

ENERGY STAR's initial focus was on computers and monitors. In 1996, the ENERGY STAR program became a joint effort of the U.S. EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Each year, the ENERGY STAR program has expanded into new areas. Currently, it encompasses more than 50 categories, including home and commercial construction and consumer and commercial electronic office appliances. Each area has its own energy waste issues, and each offers an opportunity to become part of the solution. The ENERGY STAR program encourages energy efficient designs and the automatic switching to a low power option when the device has been idle for a period of time. Over the years, ENERGY STAR has contributed to the adoption of LED traffic lights, power management for office equipment, and electrical efficiencies improvements for a wide range of electronic devices.

A measure of ENERGY STAR's success is its recognition as an international standard by the European Union (EU), Canada, Australia, Japan, and Taiwan. In 2006, the EU renewed its cooperation agreement with the United States for another five years. North of the border in Canada, the ENERGY STAR program is managed by the Natural Resources Canada's Office of Energy Efficiency. In Australia, ENERGY STAR efficiencies are supported by the Australian Government and State and Territory Governments. Obtain the latest information about ENERGY STAR at: and

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