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Covered Product Category: Computers

The Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) provides acquisition guidance and Federal efficiency requirements for computers, which are covered by the ENERGY STAR program. Federal laws and executive orders mandate that agencies meet these efficiency requirements in all procurement and acquisition actions that are not specifically exempted by law.

This acquisition guidance and associated ENERGY STAR product specifications applies to desktop, notebook, and integrated desktop computers; thin-client and small-scale servers; workstations; and game consoles. Computer servers, handheld computers, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and smartphones are excluded.

Meeting Energy Efficiency Requirements for Computers

Computers must meet low standby, EPEAT, and ENERGY STAR requirements. When buying desktops, thin clients, or workstations, Federal agencies must ensure products are listed in both the Low Standby Product List and the EPEAT registry. When buying integrated computers or notebooks, agencies must ensure products are listed in both the EPEAT registry and ENERGY STAR's qualified product list. Find more information about Federal requirements and acquisition guidance for Low Standby Power Products.

Table 1. Reference Sources for Determining Product Compliance
Product Category Product Compliance Resources
Use these resources to determine whether a product complies with requirements for Federal purchases
Computers (Desktop)b Low Standby Product Lista  and EPEAT Registry
Computers (Thin Client)b
Computers (Workstation)b
Computers (Integrated)b, c EPEAT Registry and ENERGY STAR-Qualified Product List
Computers (Notebook) b, c
Computers (Small-Scale Servers)b ENERGY STAR-Qualified Product List
a All products within the Low Standby Product List are ENERGY STAR–qualified, if available. FEMP updates the Low Standby Product List monthly, using ENERGY STAR-qualified product lists.
b The ENERGY STAR product category "Computers" includes desktop, integrated, notebook, and workstation computers. It also includes thin clients and small-scale servers. Small-scale servers are not covered by EPEAT.
c For this category, FEMP has determined that greater than 80% of ENERGY STAR–qualified products meet or exceed a 1-watt standby power requirement.

 

Reducing Energy Costs: Save More Than $120 When You Buy ENERGY STAR–Qualified Products

FEMP has calculated that the required ENERGY STAR–qualified computer saves money if priced no more than $123 above the less efficient alternative. Note that many of the energy-saving benefits of ENERGY STAR computers are lost if power management features are disabled. In the example below, disabling power management features costs $78 in energy consumption per computer over the lifetime of the product. The cost effectiveness example and associated assumptions are provided in table 2.

Table 2. Lifetime Savings for an Efficient Desktop Computera
Performance ENERGY STAR (with power management enabled) ENERGY STAR (without power management enabled) Less Efficientb (without power management enabled)
Annual Energy Use 54 kWh/year 294 kWh/year 437 kWh/year
Annual Energy Cost $5 $26 $39
Lifetime Energy Cost (4 years) $18 $96 $142
Lifetime Energy Cost Savings $124 $46 ======
a  Federal purchases must be of ENERGY STAR-qualified products that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR efficiency levels.
b  The Less Efficient column represents low-efficiency computers used in non-Federal commercial offices.

 

Determining When ENERGY STAR Is Cost Effective

An efficient product is cost effective when the lifetime energy savings (from avoided energy costs over the life of the product, discounted to present value) exceed the additional upfront cost (if any) compared to a less-efficient option. ENERGY STAR considers upfront costs and lifetime energy savings when setting required efficiency levels. Federal purchasers can assume that ENERGY STAR–qualified products are life-cycle cost effective; however, users wishing to determine cost effectiveness for their application may do so using the cost effectiveness examples or the ENERGY STAR office equipment cost calculator.

Exceptions

ENERGY STAR-qualified products may not be life-cycle cost effective in certain low-use applications, such as when a device is being purchased for backup purposes and will remain off for most of its useful life. For most applications, purchasers will find that energy-efficient products have the lowest life-cycle cost.

Agencies may claim an exception to these purchasing requirements through a written finding that no ENERGY STAR-qualified product is available to meet functional requirements, or that no ENERGY STAR-qualified product is life-cycle cost effective for the specific application. Additional information on Federal requirements is available.

Complying with Contracting Requirements

These requirements apply to all forms of procurement, including project specifications; renovation, repair, maintenance, and energy service contracts; lease agreements; acquisitions made using purchase cards; and solicitations for offers. Energy efficiency requirements should be included in both the evaluation criteria of solicitations and the evaluations of solicitation responses.

Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 23.206 requires Federal agencies to insert the clause at FAR section 52.223-15 into solicitations and contracts that deliver, acquire, furnish, or specify energy-consuming products. FEMP recommends that agencies incorporate efficiency requirements into both the technical specification and evaluation sections of solicitations.

Note that computers are often acquired through IT service providers. Make sure that such IT service contracts contain appropriate pass-through provisions to require the purchase of ENERGY STAR–qualified products for all products acquired for Federal use.

Buyer Tips: Choosing Efficient Products

Executive Order 13423 requires that 95% of the personal computers used in Federal facilities are EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) registered. In addition to meeting the ENERGY STAR efficiency requirements, EPEAT registered products have other environmentally beneficial attributes (e.g., reduction or elimination of hazardous materials, end-of-life management, and material selection). Find EPEAT registered computers.

ENERGY STAR-qualified computers are required to have an 80 PLUS Bronze rated internal power supply. Some more powerful computers, such as those used for graphic design or computer-aided drafting, may benefit from a more efficient power supply like those rated at 80 PLUS Silver, Gold, or Platinum.

Make sure that computer power management features are enabled by the supplier or installer and are compatible with the monitor, software, and network. The highest energy savings are available when the computer can actively manage its power state to the lowest appropriate power consumption level.

Almost all computers and workstations in Federal facilities are connected to local area networks using Ethernet technology. Energy-Efficient Ethernet protocols and components are available that can provide additional savings. The switch (or router) and the computer must support this technology to achieve these savings.

Notebooks offer many of the same features as desktop models, plus portability. Because they are designed to operate from a battery power supply, they also tend to be energy efficient. However, combining a notebook with an external monitor or docking station increases power use.

Computer products are covered by purchasing requirements mandating low standby power. Refer to the Low Standby Product List for information about products that meet low standby power requirements.

User Tips: Using Products More Efficiently

Properly using the built-in power management features in personal computers is one of the most effective ways to save electricity and lower energy costs. Enable computer power management features for the shortest time period and lowest power mode consistent with your needs. Even for computers with a low-power sleep mode, more energy can be saved if the computer is manually shut off completely at night, on weekends and holidays, and during long periods of non-use during the day. This saves energy and will not shorten the life of these products. IT personnel should routinely check computers to make sure power management features have not been disabled.

If your networked computer(s) must remain on in the evening for file backup or other purposes, turn off the monitor. Note that there are numerous free and commercial solutions for managing computer power settings remotely. Look for network features that provide a timed shutdown, automatic shutdown after file backup, or auto-boot-up before backup. Using sleep and off modes will not shorten computer life.

Plug-in power supplies for notebooks typically draw power even when the computer is turned off. To save energy, unplug your power supply after the notebook battery is charged, or use a power strip with an on-off switch.

Many notebooks (and some desktops) offer a hibernate feature, which saves active programs and files before shutting off, then restores the same status when the computer is turned on. This added convenience encourages users to shut off their computers when not in use.

Finding More Information

Updated September 2012