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Big News about Small Devices

2013 December 16

small network equipment

By: Una Song

Way back when I used to get a newspaper delivered to my door every morning, and would read it with my morning coffee.  Now, instead of opening up the paper, I open up my computer and read the news online. But, have you ever paused to think about what it takes to bring you the paragraphs you are currently reading?  In this age of constant connectedness, many people (including me), take access to the internet for granted. But there is a whole network of devices working together to bring you the words you are reading at this very moment. And now, those devices can earn the ENERGY STAR and help save you money, save energy and protect the climate.

When surfing the web, people usually don’t think about the cable and DSL modems, integrated access devices, routers, switches, wireless access points – collectively known as small network equipment (SNE) — needed to connect us the internet and to other devices in our homes. That is, unless they stop working.  According to market research firm Infonetics, close to 57 million SNE products were shipped in North America in 2013.  Most SNE devices are left on all the time and tend to use the same amount of energy, regardless of network activity level.  If that sounds like a lot of wasted energy, you are right—it’s like having your oven constantly set at 350 degrees.

The good news is that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ENERGY STAR program has recently completed a set of performance requirements that will allow these products to earn the ENERGY STAR, and help consumers identify models that are more energy efficient than the rest.  The next time you need a new modem or router, look for the ENERGY STAR.  If your networking equipment is supplied by your internet service provider, ask them if they will supply you with an ENERGY STAR certified one.  That one move will keep you connected and help prevent climate change. Just think–if all small network equipment sold in the United States were ENERGY STAR certified, the energy cost savings would grow to more than $590 million each year and more than 7 billion pounds of annual greenhouse gas emissions would be prevented, equivalent to the emissions from nearly 730,000 vehicles. These devices may be small, but they can make a big difference for the future of our environment.

Una Song works for EPA’s ENERGY STAR program and focuses on consumer electronics marketing.  When she’s not surfing the internet, she’s playing with her two cats.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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