California To Require More-Efficient Chargers For Mobile Devices

In a move that will likely have a huge ripple effect in the mobile device accessory market nationwide, the California Energy Commission approved the nation’s first ever energy standards for the chargers you use to power up everything from your phone and tablet to your power drill.

Most charging devices leach out a large chunk — upwards of 60% — of their energy through heat and other inefficiencies.

According to the L.A. Times, the new regulations, when fully in force, will save enough previously wasted electricity to power 350,000 homes and cut about $306 million each year off electric bills in California alone. Additionally, it should reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the state by 1.8 million tons a year, equal to pulling 138,000 cars off the road.

“[B]y taking a few relatively simple steps to improve battery chargers, we can save so much electricity, take care of the environment and save ratepayers money,” said Energy Commissioner Karen Douglas.

Of course, manufacturers will end up charging more once they have to include higher-efficiency chargers. But the energy savings costs should more than offset the extra price.

The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates every $.01 in incremental cost it takes to make a product more efficient results in $.07 in energy savings over the life of that product.

With more than 37 million people, California is by far the most populous state in the nation. So it would seem to make sense that manufacturers would go ahead and convert all their chargers to meet the higher California standards, rather than produce a version that only sells in that state.

What also remains to be seen if some consumers and legislators will have a negative reaction similar to the backlash to the phasing out of the most inefficient incandescent lights.

California imposes energy standards on chargers for mobile devices [LA Times]

Big Energy Savings from Battery-Powered Products, while Recharging Consumers Wallets [NRDC]