Cutting computers wasteful energy use could slash consumers\u2019 utility bills by a few hundred million dollars a year and cut greenhouse gas emissions. There\u2019s an estimated 40 million computers in California\u2014in addition to countless displays, games consoles and other electronics, lighting and water appliances for which the California Energy Commission is starting to develop regulations aimed at improving energy efficiency. \t \t\u201cComputers have the most potential for saving energy,\u201d said Dave Ashukian, Energy Commission deputy director of energy efficiency. Curbing the energy use of computers, particularly of desktops, could cut energy use by about 2,000 TWh\/year, saving consumers an estimated $300 million\/year, said Pierre Delforge Natural Resources Defense Council, high tech sector energy efficiency director. Using updated data gathered from investor-owned utilities, the Environmental Protection Agency, KEMA and another consulting firm, Delforge talked about the potential to slash wasteful energy use in computers during a May 29 Energy Commission workshop to update energy data on computers and displays as part of the agency\u2019s first phase of setting energy efficiency standards. He also sent detailed comments to the agency earlier this month. \u201cIt is important for the commission to understand this universe, and get as broad an information base as possible,\u201d said commissioner Andrew McAllister, at this week\u2019s workshop. The state\u2019s investor-owned utilities' data from 2011 revealed that an estimated $395 million\/year could be saved by requiring more efficient plugs and other computer components. But utility data from 2011 and 2012 show that energy use of individual computers is dropping. At the same time, the size of the desktop displays is growing and their resolution increasing, pushing energy consumption back up. Computer \u201cenergy consumption has continued to improve due to innovation and market forces,\u201d countered Intel director, global energy regulations Shahid Sheikh. Computers consume about 2.5 percent of the energy in California\u2014up to 8,000 TWh\/year, Delforge said. That \u201cis equivalent to the electricity use of all the households in the city of Los Angeles, and costs Californians $1 billion in annual electricity bills.\u201d The most wasteful in the computer family are desktops, which remain the majority of computers in the state, although the number of laptops is growing. The numbers of desktops and notebooks are expected to be about even in 2017. The former use about four-five times more energy than notebooks. There is a large variance in the energy use of computers with similar features\u2014from 150 kWh\/yr to 750 kWh\/yr, said Ken Riders, with the CEC\u2019s appliance program. But, the energy consumption of desktops is generally between 280-350kWh\/year, according to Delforge. \tThe energy commission \u201chas an excellent opportunity to explore energy efficiency standards for computers,\u201d stated Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric in joint comments to the commission, \u201cWhile the voluntary program of Energy Star has proven to be helpful in leading the top 25 percent of products, there are still significant cost-effective opportunities remaining for the rest of the market.\u201d \t Energy Star is a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency program that sets minimum energy efficiency performance standards. The Consumer Electronics Association and CISCO object to the Energy Commission\u2019s move to set mandatory energy efficiency standards for computers and other electronic devises. They assert it will drive up costs and instead back volunteer industry efforts. \tMandatory computer energy performance standards are already in effect in China, Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea. Because they were recently adopted, it is too early to assess the savings. The European Union is expected to adopt standards this quarter. California, which may adopt standards next year, is expected to adopt rules that are more stringent than the first set of efficiency regulations approved outside the country. The Golden State has led the nation with several efficiency standards, recently for TVs and battery charging. \u201cCalifornia plays a unique leadership role in developing and adopting new appliance efficiency standards, test procedures, marking and labeling requirements and other efficiency measures,\u201d the American Council for Energy Efficiency stated in comments filed with the Energy Commission earlier this month. All this week, the Energy Commission held workshops to update energy use data for computers, game consoles, set top boxes, lights as well as some water appliances.