The upcoming specifications document for Energy Star 5.0 lists language that just might spell out an easier time for purchasers of PCs. A note on page 10 of the doc makes it sound like consumers could soon get those handy little tags that spell out a device's power use and its relative efficiency. These tags have become invaluable to shoppers of appliances, and would also be a welcome tool for PC shoppers.
But, just what does the wording imply?Here is the quote from page 10:
Note: EPA proposes a TEC [Typical Energy Consumption] approach below for combining the discrete modal power values measured for computers into an annualized energy value. Such an approach, used in other ENERGY STAR home/office electronics specifications including Imaging Equipment and Set Top Boxes, provides end users with a single, easy to understand, point of comparison for energy consumption. This approach provides incentive for component efficiency innovations to counter more consumptive capabilities, while at the same time allowing computer designers flexibility to choose appropriate measures.
It sounds to me like if we aren't getting labels, we're at least getting an easier way to compare energy consumption for PCs.
Either way, this is great news for several reasons, the first of which is listed there in the quote. When energy consumption of a PC is more transparent to consumers, manufacturers will have more incentive to build energy efficient computers.
Secondly, while we are definitely getting more energy efficient computers, such as the EcoSystem, the CherryPal, or the Dell Studio Hybrid, it is still tough to compare apples to apples - er, PCs to PCs. Someone else doing this part of the comparison for us relieves us of a fat headache.
And finally, many people shop for PCs more often than they shop for major appliances. Familiarity with Energy Star ratings may encourage them to consider the labels the next time they have to shop for bigger energy consumers.
Perhaps we'll see what the language really means when the new version is closer to finalization.
More on Energy Star:
Energy Star @ Home
Energy Star: Earth Day 2007 Giving Tree
More on Low Power Computers:
Interview: Verdiem, Making Computers Use Less Energy
The Cheaper PC, the Smaller PC, and the Greener PC
Dell Rings In Energy Star 4.0