There is now a limit on how much electricity computers are allowed to use

The EU Commission has made a ruling on the amount of electricity that computers and servers are allowed to use. Even more electricity can be saved by those consumers who choose to purchase an Energy Star-marked computer.

The new requirements are based on the energy marking Energy Star, in which demands are being applied with a steadily increasing level of stringency.

"Since the marking system is so well-known within the sector, it makes it easier for manufacturers that the ecodesign is based on the same system, even though certain requirements have been added," says Johanna Whitlock, who represents the Swedish Energy Agency in the negotiations.

It is difficult to establish requirements on a market with such rapid technical development as the computer market. Ecodesign alone does not guarantee low energy use by computers. Sweden would have welcomed stricter demands, but still feels that ecodesign is a good complement to Energy Star marking. Energy Star marking is driving development forward by favouring the most energy-saving computers. Ecodesign will then, after a certain delay, accept these levels as minimum requirements, thereby further steering the range of items on offer towards more efficient products. A new cooperation agreement between the EU and the USA on Energy Star has just been entered into.

"It is therefore still important to choose computers marked with an Energy Star label. It is these computers that are at the cutting edge of development when it comes to low energy use," says Johanna Whitlock.

There is also a significant difference between the amount of energy used by a stationary computer and a portable computer, where the stationary computer in most cases uses considerably more energy. This means that it is even more important that requirements have now been introduced for the energy use of stationary computers. In the case of servers, the new requirements apply to the internal network unit.

The new requirements according to ecodesign are calculated to save some 12.5 TWh (terawatt hours) – 16.3 TWh annually from the year 2020 onwards, compared with the situation that would have been faced if development had taken place without this legal requirement with a ceiling for the highest permissible electricity consumption for computers and servers.