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Efficiency improvements in U.S. office equipment: Expected policy impacts and uncertainties

Jonathan G. Koomey, Michael Cramer, Mary Ann Piette, and Joseph H. Eto

Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory
Berkeley, CA 94720
December 1995

Abstract

This report describes a detailed end-use forecast of office equipment energy use for the US commercial sector. We explore the likely impacts of the US Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star office equipment program and the potential impacts of advanced technologies. The Energy Star program encourages manufacturers to voluntarily incorporate power saving features into personal computers, monitors, printers, copiers, and fax machines in exchange for allowing manufacturers to use the EPA Energy Star logo in their advertising campaigns. The Advanced technology case assumes that the most energy efficient current technologies are implemented regardless of cost.

  • Office equipment currently uses about 7% of all commercial sector electricity, with that fraction projected to grow to 7.6% by 2010. Total Electricity used by office equipment is projected to grow from 58 TWh in 1990 to 78 TWh in 2010 in the absence of Energy Star or any other government policies.
  • While total energy use for office equipment has grown rapidly in recent years, this growth is likely to slow in the next decade (even in the Business-as-usual case) because the US commercial sector market is becoming saturated (especially for PC CPUs and monitors) and because mainframe and minicomputer energy use per unit is declining quickly.
  • The likely energy and dollar savings in the commercial sector from the Energy Star program are significant on a national scale. Total electricity savings will range from 10 to 23 TWh/year in 2010, and will most likely be about 17 TWh/year by 2010. The most likely level of savings represents the annual output of three 1000 MW power plants, and results in net benefits to society exceeding $1 billion per year after the year 2000.
  • The cost of achieving Energy Star efficiency levels is estimated by the manufacturers to be negligible, while the cumulative direct cost of funding the Energy Star Program is on the order of a few million dollars. This policy therefore saves US society large amounts of money with minimal expenditure of public funds.
  • In the worst case, the Energy Star programs should result in commercial sector energy savings of about 10 TWh/year in 2010. Even in this case, energy and dollar savings will substantially exceed expected costs to society.
  • The Advanced case demonstrates that significant additional savings may be achieved from advanced technologies if these technologies can be reduced in cost from current levels. This case results in savings beyond the Energy Star Most-Likely case of about 29 TWh/year by 2010. These savings are worth an additional $2.3 billion per year in 2010.

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