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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 April 2013

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 and compliance resources by product category. Federal purchases must meet these low standby power requirements.

Table 1. Federal Purchasing Requirements and Compliance Resources for IT and Electronics
Product Category Product Compliance Resources
Use these resources to determine whether a product complies with requirements for Federal purchases
Low Standby Product Lista EPEAT Registryb ENERGY STAR–Qualified Product Listsc
Computers (desktop)d X X
Computers (thin client)d
Computers (workstation)d
Computers (integrated)d X X
Computers (notebook)d
Displays (computer displays)e
Imaging equipmentb
Audio/video equipment     X
Battery chargers
Computers (small-scale servers)d
Displays (professional signage)e
Set-top and cable boxes
Uninterruptible power supplies
All other product types Buy products rated ≤1 watt, or the lowest available standby power level for the product category, per 42 U.S.C. §8259b(e)

aAll products within the Low Standby Product List are ENERGY STAR–qualified, if available. FEMP updates the Low Standby Product List monthly, using ENERGY STAR–qualified product lists.
bBy definition, all Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT)–registered imaging equipment meets low standby power requirements.
cFor these categories, FEMP has determined that greater than 80% of ENERGY STAR–qualified products meet or exceed a 1-watt standby power requirement.
dThe ENERGY STAR product category "Computers" includes desktop, integrated, notebook, and workstation computers. It also includes thin clients and small-scale servers. Small-scale servers are not covered by EPEAT.
eThe ENERGY STAR product category "Displays" includes computer displays, digital picture frames, and professional signage. Computer displays are covered by EPEAT. Professional signage is not covered by EPEAT.

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. All products listed as "compliant" within the Low Standby Product List meet these requirements: FEMP updates the underlying data monthly using ENERGY STAR's qualified product lists. 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.

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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) saves 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 consumption* $236 $200 $0
Lifetime cost savings** $36 $236

*Assumes the computers are operated for 4 years, spend 6,000 hours per year in standby (based on IEC 62301 V1.0-2005), and electricity costs are $0.09 per kilowatt-hour. It also builds in future electricity price trends and discount rates based on Federal guidelines.
** 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)

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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.

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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.