Slashing Energy Use in Computers and Monitors While Protecting Our Wallets, Health, and Planet

Computers and monitors are among the biggest energy consumers among electronics. Keeping them running takes the equivalent of 30 large power plants while emitting 65 million metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution. Unfortunately, much of that energy is wasted when computers sit idle—particularly with desktops, which draw power from a wall outlet instead of a battery and thus give manufacturers little incentive to optimize energy use. Yet there are no minimum energy-efficiency standards at either the state or national level for computers and monitors.

It is time to change that by implementing commonsense, cost-effective energy-efficiency standards. This issue brief explores the various energy-saving opportunities in computers and monitors, highlighting a prototype that was able to slash energy use by half using existing on-the-shelf components at a minimal added cost. These efforts could save U.S. consumers $3 billion a year and keep 20 million metric tons of carbon pollution out of the air—without impacting computer performance or user convenience.

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