The march of consumer product efficiency continues. Modems, routers and other internet equipment are the latest items to get a bump in energy efficiency thanks to a voluntary agreement between manufacturers and trade associations. The standards mean that new equipment should use about 10 to 20 percent less electricity than the gear currently on the market. The bottom line – reduced energy bills for consumers.

Homes Across the Country

The change is ultimately expected to affect 80 million homes in the United States. Currently, the terms run through 2017 and require manufacturers and providers to make their efficiency data available publicly – ask an electrician if you need help interpreting the data or picking out the best model once the new equipment hits the shelves.

“DOE appreciates industry’s voluntary commitment to improving the energy efficiency of small network equipment, and looks forward to the progress they can make and verification of the impacts at the appropriate time,” Dr. Kathleen Hogan, deputy assistant secretary for energy efficiency, U.S. Department of Energy, said in a press release. 

Preparing for the Internet of Things

The voluntary agreement was hammered out among the Consumer Electronics Association, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association and the companies that make the equipment. This efficiency upgrade comes at a crucial time – not only are modems and routers essential for internet access, they will only become more important as smart technology advances and more of your household systems are hooked up to the internet.

“This agreement will begin saving consumers energy and money – and do so long before any mandatory regulatory standards could take effect – while protecting innovation and competition,” Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, said in a press release. “By setting requirements for energy-efficient broadband equipment now, the agreement will lock-in efficiencies at the dawn of the Internet of Things, which depends on strong broadband networking.”

Following the Cable Box Lead

This agreement is similar to a voluntary deal worked out by manufacturers of cable set-top boxes, in which the companies worked with the U.S. government to set an attainable benchmark. The deals are voluntary out of practicality, because federal regulations can take years to take effect and can be quickly rendered obsolete by ever-advancing technology.

“Our industry has proven that voluntary, energy-conservation agreements are the best means of effectively improving energy efficiency, while recognizing the lightning-fast pace of tech innovation,” Shapiro said.

Similar to the set-top boxes, modems and internet equipment are nearly ubiquitous in U.S. households, and they draw power nearly all the time unless the family pulls the plug at night. That means there's a lot of room for cutting back on their electricity usage. If you aren't sure whether the energy savings are worth upgrading your modem or router, ask an electrician to help calculate your consumption and offer strategies on how to get the best return on your conservation investment.

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