EPA Nixes External Adaptors from Energy Star Program

Photo via alistairas via Flickr Creative Commons

The Environmental Protection Agency decided that external power adapters aren't eligible for inclusion in the Energy Star Label program, the reason being that they're doing too good a job meeting qualifications anyway. Since most external adapters meet qualifications, there's no point in wasting resources putting them through the labeling process. On the one hand, it makes perfect sense to streamline the program where possible (after all, Energy Star is far from perfect in what makes it through the barriers) but on the other hand, isn't it an important step to ensure manufacturers continue to push the envelope on better efficiency?The EPA writes that in 2005, external power adapters were made part of the Energy Star program in order to address the energy wasted by the devices that require them, from cell phones to laptops and so on. However, by 2008, about half of all the adapters sold in the US made qualifications. That same year, a federal standard for minimum efficiency went into effect requiring all adapters to meet Energy Star qualifications anyway. And while the EPA strengthened the requirements in 2009, it seems that still over 50% of all adaptors meet even these more stringent requirements. So their solution is to call it a job well done and quit bothering with adapters altogether.

The EPA figures that with the push over the last five years to make external power adapters more efficient, we all use around 12 billion kWh a year less than in 2005. Not too shabby.

However, what about the slightly less than 50% of the adapters that aren't up to snuff for the Energy Star label? Without a reason to be more competitive such as earning a third party label that consumers trust and (hopefully) look to for making purchasing decisions, what might make them work harder to make their equipment more energy efficient?

The EPA says this move is essentially a result of a "market transformation achieved" and apparently doesn't see a need to keep tightening standards. Perhaps that is so, and at this point dealing with external power adapters is too small a bone to pick. If dumping them from the program means that Energy Star can focus on doing a proper job rating the bigger energy hogs such as gaming consoles, refrigerators and other products, then maybe it is well worth it.

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Tags: Electronics | Energy Efficiency | Gadgets


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