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Rechargeable Tools and Appliances Can Now Earn the Energy Star

Release Date: 01/13/2006
Contact Information: John Millett, (202) 564-4355 / millett.john@epa.gov

(Washington, D.C.-Jan. 13, 2006) Battery chargers for cordless tools and appliances are the latest products eligible to earn EPA's Energy Star label. The labeling program identifies energy efficient products. Americans use some 230 million products with rechargeable batteries, and Energy Star chargers will be at least 35 percent more energy efficient.

"Expanding the Energy Star Label to battery chargers is the next step in promoting energy efficiency," EPA Acting Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation Bill Wehrum said. "By using more energy efficient battery chargers, Americans can save money on their energy bills and help prevent greenhouse gas emissions."

Battery charging systems recharge a wide variety of cordless products, including power tools, small household appliances, personal care products like electric toothbrushes and electric shavers, and garden tools such as weed and hedge trimmers.

In the United States alone, more energy efficient battery chargers have the potential to save Americans more than 1 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy per year, saving Americans more than $100 million annually while preventing the release of more than one million tons of greenhouse gas emissions—equivalent to the emissions of 150,000 cars. On average, Energy Star qualified battery chargers will use 35 percent less energy than conventional models.

More and more consumer products are becoming cordless and portable, requiring battery chargers and power adapters. This is a timely opportunity to capture energy savings associated with these common household products. Battery chargers -- even when not actively charging a product -- can draw as much as 5 to 20 times more energy than is actually stored in the battery. Energy Star guidelines for battery charging systems focus on "non-active" modes of recharging, including battery maintenance mode (charger is connected to a fully charged product), and standby mode (charger is plugged in, but no product is connected).

EPA is promoting the most efficient charging systems since they are commonly bundled with so many popular consumer products and appliances. Some products, such as portable floor vacuums, and even some power tools, may spend as much as 90 percent of their operating time in battery maintenance mode, where lots of energy can be consumed by an inefficient design.

These new guidelines complement EPA's existing Energy Star external power adapter specification, announced in January 2005. Power adapters are devices that convert high voltage power from a wall outlet into low voltage power for devices such as notebook computers, monitors and other electronics. To date, more than 20 external power adapter manufacturers have joined Energy Star and are producing energy-efficient models, which are available with mobile phones, digital cameras, and other products.

Battery charging systems join the more than 40 categories of products that can earn the Energy Star mark, including lighting, appliances, office equipment, consumer electronics, and heating and cooling equipment. Last year alone, Americans, with the help of Energy Star, saved $10 billion dollars on their energy bills and enough energy to power 25 million homes, and avoided the greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those of 20 million cars.

Learn more about Energy Star battery charging systems: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=battery_chargers.pr_battery_chargers

Additional information on the Energy Star program: http://www.energystar.gov