U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Federal Energy Management Program

Federal Requirements and Acquisition Guidance for Low Standby Power Products

Did You Know?
Products with a remote, soft keypad, clock, or network connection often draw standby power and increase energy use. Look for products without these features, unless the functionality is absolutely necessary.

Updated June 2012

Federal agencies must purchase products with a standby power level of 1 watt or less. Standby power is the power consumed by a product when in the lowest power consuming mode. This typically occurs when the product is switched off or not performing its primary purpose.1

This product category overview covers the following topics:

These additional resources can also help Federal agencies meet low standby power purchasing requirements:

Meeting Low Standby Power Requirements

Table 1 outlines specific standby power requirements by product category. Federal purchases must meet these low standby power requirements.

Table 1. Energy Efficiency Requirements for Low Standby Power Product Categories
Product Category Purchasing Requirements
Cordless phones Buy products rated 1 watt or less in the Standby Power Data Center
Desktop computers and workstations
Fax/printer machines
All other product types
Microwave ovensa Buy products rated 2 watts or less in the Standby Power Data Center
Audio/video Buy ENERGY STAR®–qualified productsb
Displays (including monitors and televisions)
Notebooks and integrated computers
Multifunction imaging devices

a For these categories, the Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) has determined that greater than 80% of ENERGY STAR–qualified products meet or exceed a 1-watt standby power requirement.
b The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has proposed a national standby power efficiency standard for microwave ovens, which is currently under review and if adopted, would take into effect starting in 2014. For details, please refer to "Energy Conservation Program: Energy Conservation Standards for Standby Mode and Off Mode for Microwave Ovens." The FEMP standby power requirement for microwave ovens applies until the new DOE efficiency standard takes effect.

When buying or specifying products listed in the table above, Federal agencies must ensure the product is ENERGY STAR qualified and meets the low standby power requirement. Note that microwave ovens are not covered by the ENERGY STAR program and thus do not have to be ENERGY STAR qualified. Per Executive Order 13514, Federal customers must also ensure that 95% of computer and computer monitor purchases qualify as Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) products each year. Electronic products not listed in the table above must meet a standby power level of 1 watt or less unless such a product is not available or is not cost effective in the intended application. In that case, the buyer should seek a product with the lowest standby power level available.

Back to Top

Determining Product Cost Effectiveness

An efficient product is cost effective when the energy cost savings over its functional lifetime exceed any initial incremental cost above a base model (i.e., energy cost savings are greater than additional costs at time of purchase). Federal purchasers may assume that ENERGY STAR–qualified products and products meeting FEMP-designated efficiency requirements are life-cycle cost effective. However, users wishing to determine cost effectiveness for their application may do so using the cost effectiveness example in table 2.

In this cost effectiveness example, an agency purchase of 100 desktop computers that meet the required low standby power level (1 watt or less) will save the agency $36–$236 in lifetime energy costs. Because low standby power desktop computers do not typically come with a price premium (also known as incremental or additional cost), the agency can capture all the energy cost savings.

Table 2. Cost Effectiveness Example for Standby Power Consumption: 100 Desktop Computers
Base Level Required Level Best Available
Standby consumption (watts) 1.18 1 0.01
Annual standby energy consumption (kilowatt-hours/year) 708 600 0
Annual cost of standby energy consumption $64 $54 $0
Lifetime cost of standby energy consumptiona $236 $200 $0
Lifetime cost savingsb $36 $236

a This assumes the computers are operated for 4 years, spend 6,000 hours per year in standby (based on IEC 62301 V1.0-2005), and that electricity costs $0.09 per kilowatt-hour. It also builds in future electricity price trends and discount rates based on Federal guidelines.
b This assumes that the low standby power computer is available for the same price as a high standby power computer. Federal agencies will find that this is often the case.

To adjust this cost effectiveness example using a different electricity price, multiply the typical lifetime energy cost savings above by this ratio:

(Your price in $0.00/kilowatt-hours) ÷ ($0.09/kilowatt-hours)

To adjust the hours a device is consuming power at the standby power level, multiply the typical lifetime energy cost savings above by this ratio:

(Your hours) ÷ (6,000 hours)

Back to Top

Complying With Contracting Requirements

The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) 2007 and Executive Order 13221 require Federal agencies to purchase products with a standby power level of 1 watt or less. These requirements apply to all forms of procurement, including construction guide specifications and project specifications; renovation, repair, maintenance, and energy service contracts; lease agreements; acquisitions made using purchase cards; and solicitations for offers. Energy efficiency requirements should be included in both the evaluation criteria of solicitations and the evaluations of solicitation responses.

FAR Part 23.206 requires Federal agencies to insert the clause at FAR section 52.223-15 in solicitations and contracts that deliver, acquire, furnish, or specify energy-consuming products. FEMP recommends that agencies incorporate efficiency requirements into both the technical specification and evaluation sections of solicitations. Agencies may claim an exception to these requirements through a written finding that no ENERGY STAR–qualified or FEMP-designated product is available to meet the functional requirements, or that no such product is life-cycle cost effective for the specific application. Additional information on Federal requirements is available.

Back to Top

1 Some organizations use the term standby power to refer to all low power modes. FEMP does not consider standby power as a mode, but rather a level of power consumption that occurs when a device is in the lowest power-consuming mode.