Europe, the vampire mode slayer

The EU takes steps to regulate standby power consumption by appliances. So what's the U.S. doing?

Published July 9, 2008 4:29PM (EDT)

The European Union is moving forward with regulations that will significantly restrict the amount of power electric appliances can consume in standby, or "vampire," mode.


The rules are expected to be endorsed by Parliament later this year and would take effect as of 2010.

Computers, televisions, printers and similar devices should, by 2010, consume no more than one or two watts when on stand-by. From 2013, that level should then be lowered even further to 0.5 or maximum one watt.

The rules are a reflection of the EU's "EcoDesign Directive," passed in 2005, which requires manufacturers to take into account power consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and other environmental and sustainability issues in their product designs.

As far as I can tell, the United States has nothing similar at a federal level. The 2007 Energy Act only requires that the Department of Energy "incorporate energy use in standby mode and off mode" in "future standards for covered products."

But no worries -- if the Asian manufacturers who currently produce the bulk of the world's appliances are forced to rejigger their designs for the EU market, they'll probably do so as well for products aimed at the U.S.

Thanks, Europe! We owe you one.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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