There is often a gap between those who create energy-efficient devices and those who regulate or incentivize these products. In fact, very few companies engage in the development of state and federal appliance standards, regulations, and incentives. Why? Well, they often take a long time to implement, and the proceedings can be technical and tedious. However, these policies can be technology game changers that can significantly influence how devices are manufactured and used (see recent proceedings for televisions and battery chargers, for example).

Graph of 2011 market penetration of selected ENERGY STAR products, as explained in article text

SEI’s role is to help bridge that gap to ensure state and federal policies incorporate the most innovative solutions now and for the future. Also see the ACEEE, US DOE site, and the California Energy Commission sites for more information.

Read our 2012 report, Get Smart Guide: Energy Innovation for the Consumer Electronics Industry, and learn about the different consumer electronics and how their designs have contributed to energy efficiency and innovations can lead to higher efficiency.

California policy

California is only one state, but California has positioned itself as a leader in energy efficiency. California uses less electricity per capita than any other state in the nation, and continually strives to have the most aggressive appliance standards. Every two years since its inception in 1974, the California Energy Commission (CEC) has updated the California Appliance Efficiency Regulations, codified in Title 20 of the California Code, which apply to appliances sold or offered for sale in California. The most recent regulations, adopted in 2010, address power supplies, televisions, consumer audio and video equipment, and battery chargers. Efforts are also now underway for the next round of standards starting in 2012 through 2015 in three phases. For general information on California’s Energy Efficiency standards, see http://www.energy.ca.gov/efficiency.

Currently, there are three areas where energy efficiency in consumer electronics is addressed:

  1. CEC Title 20: Under Title 20, the CEC implements energy efficiency standards in appliances. At present, the only household electronics devices regulated under Title 20 are televisions and battery chargers. Updates to Title 20 are currently under consideration by the CEC. In particular, the CEC will consider regulations that support the goal of achieving zero net energy (ZNE) building standards by 2020 for residential buildings and 2030 for commercial buildings. You can download the CEC Title 20 Proposed Work-Flow Chart to better understand California’s rulemaking process and download documents from an August 2011 public workshop.
  1. CEC Title 24: Title 24 is the CEC’s building efficiency program. Among other things, the most recent rulemaking in 2008 was intended to provide California with an adequate, reasonably-priced, and environmentally-sound supply of energy and support AB 32, California’s Global Warming Solutions Act. Title 24 outlines standards for building efficiency in a wide variety of areas such as insulation and lighting. The 2008 standards are available here. Proposed updates to the Title 24 regulations will also be considered in 2013. You can read and learn how to get involved in this process at http://www.energy.ca.gov/title24/2013standards/index.html.
  1. Governor’s Green Building Action Plan: Executive Order B-18-12 calls for new or renovated state buildings larger than 10,000 square feet to achieve the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED “Silver” certification or higher and to incorporate clean, on-site power generation, such as solar photovoltaic, solar thermal, and wind power generation and clean back-up power supplies. The order also sets a target of ZNE consumption for 50% of the square footage of existing state-owned buildings by 2025 and ZNE consumption from all new or renovated state buildings beginning design after 2025. You can learn more about the Executive Order here.