On February 3, 2014, the US Department of Energy (USDOE) issued a pre-publication version of its final rule on energy conservation standards for external power supplies (EPS). EPS converts household electric current into direct current or lower-voltage alternating current to operate a consumer product, such as a laptop computer or smart phone. There are hundreds of product types that use an EPS and over 300 million EPSs are shipped each year.

This new standard applies to all direct operation EPSs and includes, in addition to Class A power supplies previously covered by 2007 standards, power supplies that have not previously been subject to DOE regulations, such as multiple-voltage EPSs, EPSs with nameplate output power greater than 250 watts, and some EPSs that charge the battery of a product that is fully or primarily motor operated.  The USDOE anticipates that the new standard will make these components up to 33 percent more efficient, cut carbon pollution by nearly 47 million metric tons, and save consumers nearly $4 billion on their energy bills. A summary of the new standard by type of EPS can be found on the USDOE website.

The standard is expected to become effective in 2016 (two years after its publication in the Federal Register).  Currently, there are no waivers or exceptions to the new standard.  Congress and USDOE have exempted certain products from energy conservation rules, including small businesses manufacturing certain products that earn less than $8,000,000 in annual gross revenues, external power supplies used for certain security and life safety alarms and surveillance systems, and replacement parts manufactured for devices made between 2008 and 2015.  There are regulatory procedures in place to request a waiver or an exception through the USDOE Office of Hearing and Appeals.

This standard is part of USDOE’s work toward meeting President Obama’s goal of 3 billion metric tons of CO2 savings by 2030. USDOE is currently working on standards for a variety of devices and appliances, including commercial refrigeration standards, motors and furnace fans.  Businesses that manufacture EPSs or appliances that rely on electricity or generate carbon emissions should be following these developments closely.