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United States Power

California To Adopt First US Energy-Saving Rules For Computers (reuters.com) 171

California regulators were poised on Wednesday to adopt the nation's first mandatory energy efficiency rules for computers and monitors -- devices that account for 3 percent of home electric bills and 7 percent of commercial power costs in the state. From a report on Reuters: The state Energy Commission said that when fully implemented, the plan will save consumers $373 million a year and conserve as much electricity annually as it takes to power all San Francisco's homes. Final approval of the standards, expected at a meeting in Sacramento of the five-member commission, caps a nearly two-year planning process that had input from environmentalists, industry, scientists and consumer groups. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental group that helped devise the standards, has said the new standards would cut greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel combustion in power generation by 700,000 tons a year. The California standards set a benchmark for a machine's overall energy use and leave manufacturers the flexibility to choose which efficiency measures to use to meet it -- an approach that the NRDC says fosters innovation.
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California To Adopt First US Energy-Saving Rules For Computers

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  • Java? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 14, 2016 @11:51AM (#53483871)

    Does that mean California will ban the use of Java?

  • I once worked for a company that had mandated GPOs which turned machines off at a certain time each day. If you were working past 7:00, expect to deal with the power cycle. Of course, coming in and waiting for the machine to come up was a time waster as well. Ironic thing is that the "IT" department that did this learned really quickly to not toss the DCs and SQL server boxes into the OU that this policy applied to.

    • I once worked for a company that had mandated GPOs which turned machines off at a certain time each day. If you were working past 7:00, expect to deal with the power cycle. Of course, coming in and waiting for the machine to come up was a time waster as well. Ironic thing is that the "IT" department that did this learned really quickly to not toss the DCs and SQL server boxes into the OU that this policy applied to.

      I can see it now - stories popping up on /. about power companies in CA experiencing two period-tied brownouts in the morning hours because of all of the people turning computing devices on in their homes and workplaces. :)

  • Statistics (Score:5, Interesting)

    by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2016 @11:57AM (#53483931) Homepage Journal

    California regulators were poised on Wednesday to adopt the nation's first mandatory energy efficiency rules for computers and monitors -- devices that account for 3 percent of home electric bills and 7 percent of commercial power costs in the state.

    Does these figures include or exclude the extra cooling needs due to the computers and monitors?
    If your computer burns 200W, if you live in the South, you likely spend an additional 300+W on cooling to offset that heat production.

    • Re:Statistics (Score:4, Informative)

      by MrLogic17 ( 233498 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2016 @12:58PM (#53484493) Journal

      Typical California thinking. Not everyone is cooling their homes. For the past few months, the vast majority of my utility bill has been heating.
      Electronics (that I already manage power settings on, thank-you-very-much) giving off heat is a side benefit to me at least half the year - maybe more.

      • Yes and they are heating your house less efficiently than a heat pump could. This is not a net zero problem.

        • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

          Just seeing the word "heat pump" makes me shiver.

          • There are some very good low temperature heat pumps out there, and have been for several years now. Of course there's still cheap ones, too, which ice up in the cold and resort to heating coils only putting out 1/3rd as much heat.

      • For the past few months, the vast majority of my utility bill has been heating. Electronics (that I already manage power settings on, thank-you-very-much) giving off heat is a side benefit to me at least half the year - maybe more.

        You could get 3-4 times as much heat out of that same amount of electricity, if put into a low-temperature air-source heat pump. Much more heat out of a geothermal heat pump. Similiar savings if you spent the money on natural gas instead of electricity for your heating needs.

        An

      • Typical California thinking. Not everyone is cooling their homes. For the past few months, the vast majority of my utility bill has been heating.
        Electronics (that I already manage power settings on, thank-you-very-much) giving off heat is a side benefit to me at least half the year - maybe more.

        That rather depends on how you heat your home and how you source your electricity. If you use gas heating and electricity generated from fossil fuels, your computer is only half as efficient at heating your home as your gas heater is (due to the 50% conversion loss in a typical power plant). If you use electric heating, all of your heating has an efficiency of 50%. Buy a heat pump and reduce your heating bill by a factor of 4.

    • And similarly, if you live in Minnesota, every watt your computer burns goes to heating your house (and particularly you, who are probably sitting right in front of the computer when it's active). So it's not wasted at all (though it's less efficient than a heat pump if you have one).

    • California regulators were poised on Wednesday to adopt the nation's first mandatory energy efficiency rules for computers and monitors -- devices that account for 3 percent of home electric bills and 7 percent of commercial power costs in the state.

      Does these figures include or exclude the extra cooling needs due to the computers and monitors?
      If your computer burns 200W, if you live in the South, you likely spend an additional 300+W on cooling to offset that heat production.

      When you are domiciled in a place with low cost electricity, and winter is a snow season, any wasted energy from a monitor or TV is not wasted heat, but heat that displaces the electric element in the forced air furnace or the hot water tanks holding circulating water to radiators to heat a home or business.

      When energy consumption matters is in summer, when the equipment heat has to be pumped out of the building. But in summer, we can open windows, and that heat just blows out the window.
      It is a similar ar

      • by arth1 ( 260657 )

        When you are domiciled in a place with low cost electricity, and winter is a snow season, any wasted energy from a monitor or TV is not wasted heat, but heat that displaces the electric element in the forced air furnace or the hot water tanks holding circulating water to radiators to heat a home or business.

        Thus my qualifier "if you live in the South".

  • Huh? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by darkain ( 749283 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2016 @12:00PM (#53483961) Homepage

    Maybe I somehow absolutely missed it, but looking at both the summary and TFA, I cannot figure out just WHAT the hell these new "standards" even are.

    And really, with manufacturers shoving tablets that "act as laptops" which are meant to be desktop replacements and can be charged over USB cable, is evenergy efficiency of new computers even a concern at all anymore?

    • Maybe I somehow absolutely missed it, but looking at both the summary and TFA, I cannot figure out just WHAT the hell these new "standards" even are.

      And really, with manufacturers shoving tablets that "act as laptops" which are meant to be desktop replacements and can be charged over USB cable, is evenergy efficiency of new computers even a concern at all anymore?

      This is all I read in it:

      The California standards set a benchmark for a machine's overall energy use and leave manufacturers the flexibility to choose which efficiency measures to use to meet it - an approach that the NRDC says fosters innovation.

      • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Curunir_wolf ( 588405 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2016 @01:00PM (#53484515) Homepage Journal

        an approach that the NRDC says fosters innovation.

        So, similar to the EPA's fuel additive mandate for a compound that is unavailable to anyone [institutef...search.org], claiming a mandate "fosters innovation" is actually newspeak for "They're going to have to invent something that doesn't exist right now." The feasibility and cost of which is not even considered.

        • They're going to have to invent something that doesn't exist right now.

          Except there's no invention needed. As it stands currently there are incredibly efficient devices and designs in the world. You just don't get them when you pay to the lowest offering from China. All this will do is remove the ultra cheap crap off the shelfs and / or require a token effort by manufacturers.

          e.g. for the coffee lovers, There's a Rancillio Silvia E now sold only in Europe which features identical hardware to the model across the pond with just a bit of insulating foam on the boiler and a timer

  • by frovingslosh ( 582462 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2016 @12:02PM (#53483977)

    as much electricity annually as it takes to power all San Francisco's homes

    So what you're saying is that we could avoid all of this if we just cut off all SF homes from the grid? Has anyone considered this option as an alternative? I never liked those people anyway. And they seem to be exactly the kind of people who are against the free market and are likely behind this. It would serve them right to have them do without electricity.

  • A few articles have pointed out this paradox, including an episode of Freakonomics [freakonomics.com]. It's been noted by various historians and economists that as efficiency improves, consumption tends to increase. This known as the Jevons Paradox [wikipedia.org].

    The most famous example of this was 19th century locomotives. As engines became more efficient, it made the use of locomotives more economical and spurred an increase in the use of locomotives, leading to ever-higher consumption of coal.
    • You do realize that people's usage of their computer is not based on its efficiency. I'm not likely to use my computer MORE because it's MORE EFFICIENT.
      • by mjr167 ( 2477430 )

        Tell that to people running server farms.

        100 years ago when we needed an entire room with it's own power plant to add two numbers, not everyone had computers. Now the computer in your toaster is more powerful than that computer from 100 years ago. The cost to own and operate something is directly related to how many people can own and operate it and how often it will get used.

  • by Tyr07 ( 2300912 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2016 @12:10PM (#53484063) Homepage

    All devices I've purchased have energy start compliance and saving features. Due to the annoyance of some features I have to disable them.

    Like power saving brightness settings that adapt to the room lighting. Because I have to keep fucking with the brightness from what the TV perceives as light level in the room. E.G Window shining light into the room but not directly on the TV so it dims but overall room brightness is much higher.

    Plus the time it took to get the right color and brightness / contrast I wanted. My computer is also high performance, and I used to notice significantly if a primary HDD powered down. It was a real pain. I have an SSD now and my storage drive I let spin down, but if they are nit picky on it, some content and programs cache significantly, which would let the HDD power down and it would drive me nuts getting lag spikes each time it spins up.

    So I obviously adjust the power down time. I also notice the lag when the processor clocks down when it thinks it can, but it was wrong and clocks back up. I don't like stutter. If I'm playing a game it's a death. So I don't let my CPU clock down most of the time. Occasionally I adjust the power settings when I know I won't be doing anything intensive for days, and do shut my PC down when not in use.

    But what else? Auto suspend? I mean that shit is annoying. It's been 20+ years and we still can't go to standby and back safely all the time depending on what programs are in use.

    I will shit bricks if they expect me to pay the same amount for stuttering shitty low power / power saving hardware. They can fuck off I won't buy it.

    • I'm so sorry but I have to...

      Part of the law will be banning of gaming between the hours of 8a-7p local time.

      Again... so sorry. It was just.. there. :)

      • by Tyr07 ( 2300912 )

        Or when something against the agenda of the politcally party happens your ethernet connection switches to special power saving mode since many people in the area are going online at once taking way more power and it needs to save it, making your internet slow and almost unusable so you can't spread what's going on in social media.

    • You're looking at this from the wrong angle. You're not going to pay the same for stuttering shitty low power hardware. You just won't be able to buy the cheap crap nasty high power stuff anymore.

      Case in point, PSUs. There are energy ratings on them already. Funny enough the better quality supplies have the better energy ratings. So there's one step towards efficiency, ban $50 PSUs.

      • by Tyr07 ( 2300912 )

        Cheap PSU's is one thing but it'll just be a money grab overall.

        Instead of trying to sell us on better power efficiency in hardware besides PSU's, like CPU's with power saving features, it'll be mandatory.
        What they'll do it then say "Due to the cost to implement these features, we have to increase price" and it'll be safe for them to do it since everyone has to add these functions and can't undercut them, so its not going to end well for the consumer, it never does.

    • by MobyDisk ( 75490 )

      My Vizio TV is only energy-star compliant at the dimmest brightness level. That's like saying this water heater is only energy-star compliant when the hot water is at 80 degrees F.

  • by poofmeisterp ( 650750 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2016 @12:14PM (#53484085) Journal

    FTFA:

    The California standards set a benchmark for a machine's overall energy use and leave manufacturers the flexibility to choose which efficiency measures to use to meet it - an approach that the NRDC says fosters innovation.

    Really. I mean, really? So basically I (pretend I'm a manufacturer) can build a computer that has a slow processor that throttles constantly, a SSD drive for long-term storage that will cost more but not grant much benefit given the throttling of resources, a machine that enters hibernation-mode sleep after 30 seconds of non-use, a GPU that can have an entire video uploaded to it and plays it on its own with no other system resource usage beyond basic interface, or a new type of display that has near-zero loss (dreaming now).

    I'm just saying.. that's what it sounds like. There's no "innovation" to be had in computers anymore; at least not ones that will screw with the power factor more and more, basically using more fossil fuel to use less fossil fuel?

    Speaking of which, there's an idea.. How about a direct non-switching power supply that doesn't screw with the AC line harmonics and stores, in capacitors, what it will need for fast surges of use?

    Alternate idea: turn ANY devices or lighting/etc off when you're not using it. Apparently that's not possible for some reason, so we have to start nibbling at things that eat smaller amounts of power rather than the largest consumers of electricity - HVAC and other AC motor-driven devices...? This is a bit fishy. There has to be another reason behind the pushing of law to accomplish something, unless it's basically a way to force consumers to do what saves power already instead of giving them the option not to do it if they don't feel like it.

    • How about a direct non-switching power supply that doesn't screw with the AC line harmonics and stores, in capacitors, what it will need for fast surges of use?

      Or just spend more than $50 and get a powersupply that is more than 90% efficient, has an almost perfect power factor, and doesn't include harmonic filters sourced from a electronics graveyard?

      Seriously there's no need for a radical change in the PSU unless you run a datacentre in which case there's efficiencies to be had through scale.

  • TFS & TFA are light on details, but here gives a little more info:
    https://www.nrdc.org/experts/p... [nrdc.org]

    The new proposed standards require that desktop computers reduce power draw by half when idle (with no user activity), and establishes more modest power reductions for notebooks/laptops, which already are much more efficient when operating on battery mode, but that is not always the case when they are plugged in.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The new proposed standards require that desktop computers reduce power draw by half when idle

      Sounds easy to meet by doubling active power usage. My company will be the innovate one to add an egg fryer next to the cup holder.

    • What if I leave my computer with no user activity to render some path traced images? Fuck California...
    • I disable any power saving for computer running on mains supply, my computers run a real OS and always are working. I don't even want my display dimmed after x minutes of inactivity, sometimes engineering tasks requires concentration on information for long periods of time.

      Idiot Californians, always with symbolism over substance.

  • mac pro will need to be cut down even more to fit into the new power rules or they class it as a server to have it listed as an 24/7 full power system.

  • ...was already powered by Smug?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]!

  • San Francisco is 2% of the states population. So to power them they would need to decrease power used by computers from 3% to 1% over the entire state. Meaning a 67% decrease. How inefficient are computers that that is doable? Considering that computers now means tablets, which have a huge reason to be as energy efficient as possible, I do not see this being all that doable.

    • by jopsen ( 885607 )
      There is probably a lot of low hanging power efficiency gains to be had at a fairly low cost... But without regulation fostering competition companies aren't going to pay a low cost of major gains..

      Presumably, most laptops/mobile devices already have a focus on power efficiency. But maybe there is some chargers that could easily be made more efficient.

      I'm not expert here, but generally moderate regulation fosters innovation that wouldn't happen.
      • by Agripa ( 139780 )

        There is probably a lot of low hanging power efficiency gains to be had at a fairly low cost... But without regulation fostering competition companies aren't going to pay a low cost of major gains..

        Presumably, most laptops/mobile devices already have a focus on power efficiency. But maybe there is some chargers that could easily be made more efficient.

        I'm not expert here, but generally moderate regulation fosters innovation that wouldn't happen.

        The only low handing power efficiency gains to be had at this point involve power management which invariably is poorly performing, buggy, or outright broken.

        Efficiency in power conversion has been increased over time because it allows for a higher power density. Efficiency in high performance logic like processors and GPUs has been increased over time because power density has limited performance for years now so it is the only way to increase performance. That is why desktop and server processors have s

  • No I dont want my desktop to go to sleep ever. I certainly dont want a server doing that. No actual specifics to be found in anything this is just a fluff piece.

  • Will this save electricity, who knows? The whole save as much as SF is a over generalization that ignores all of the computing equipment that would not be up this new spec. What it will do is drive up costs as manufacturers re-engineer for a new spec that may only be required in CA.
  • Wrong Target... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by FrankSchwab ( 675585 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2016 @01:50PM (#53484939) Journal

    At least my computer and monitor, out of the box, go to sleep after a while.

    Please, , let them turn their attention to Cable and Satellite TV boxes that when turned "off" with the remote still pull 20+ watts. Let them turn their attention to items like the Roku 3, which didn't even have the concept of "off" (and which kept a moving logo on the screen permanently to keep your TV from turning off). Let them turn their attention to all the IOT thingies, for whom implementing low-power states is an even lower priority than providing basic security.

    • I agree. What they should have done is sit down and look at homes throughout the state, monitor their power usage, come up with a breakdown of the heaviest hitters, then have a plan of attack for those.

      I'd bet it's things like HVAC, fridges, and then a bunch of phantom power gear as these are things that run often. Then intermittent stuff like washers, dryers, dishwashers, and ovens.

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      I do not let my computers sleep since I would lose my network connections. Drives sleep is annoying too. I do let monitors and others sleep though.

  • Thats the only consistent way to get around the law. Of course we could switch to monochrome Liquid Crystal Displays.
  • This is especially funny since California has long been known for Silicon Valley, the innovation center for the fastest and most powerful new computing technology. (Well, at least until China took the crown.) Now they'll be known for keeping their computers turned off, and running at throttled speeds when they are on. Software developers will have their beefy i7's replaced with anemic Atoms. Go California!! (just don't go too fast...)
  • by Stormy Dragon ( 800799 ) on Wednesday December 14, 2016 @06:09PM (#53486919) Homepage

    It should be noted the regulation is going to effectively ban open source operating systems in California.

    The regulation requires a certification that includes testing of the OS's power management capabilities, which means only OS's with a big enough corporate backer to get them through the certification process are going to be legal.

  • So long as the place (eg, California) shimmers brightly at night...

    These energy saver 'micro-aggressions' against high technology devices and those who use them are transparently revealed for what they are,

    1. Marketing of 'new' tech to replace embarrassingly reliable old tech
    2. Under guise of carbon regulation, getting Government to enforce mandate same
    3. Tiny little carbon-saver lollipops for guilty faux environmentalists to suck on
    4. Promoting power up/down cycles to reduce lifespan from thermal variation

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