Bush banishes 'vampire devices'

Commercial products such as computers and wireless phones used by federal agencies can use no more than 1 watt of power in their standby mode, according to an executive order President Bush signed July 31.

"One of the ways that our nation wastes energy is through what they call "vampire devices,' " Bush said. "These will be a battery charger, cell phone chargers, computer systems that we really think [are] not using energy when plugged in but, in fact, are.

"And so we've set what we call a 1-watt standard throughout the federal government, that we expect our agencies to be ridding themselves of the vampires and using energy conservation devices."

If such products are not available, agencies should buy products with the lowest standby power wattage, according to the order. Agencies must adhere to the requirements, the president directed, as long as the product's "utility and performance are not compromised as a result."

By the end of the year, the Energy Department, working with the Defense Department and the General Services Administration, will have a preliminary list of products subject to the new requirements. DOE will finalize the list and may remove products deemed inappropriate for listing, according to the executive order.

The Consumer Electronics Association and the Electronic Industries Alliance applauded the presidential order, according to a joint statement from Gary Shapiro, president and chief executive officer of the CEA, and Dave McCurdy, EIA president.

They said they are encouraged that the executive order "allows the marketplace to dictate the appropriate standards for standby power so manufacturers may continue to find ways to improve the energy efficiency of our products.

"By giving procurement officers the flexibility to purchase energy-efficient products that don't compromise features and functionality, the president has shown it is possible to promote conservation while preserving the right of manufacturers to design and market products that meet consumer demand."

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