Europe declares war on chargers

The European Union has issued new rules that will prevent laptop and mobile phone chargers from wasting electricity, cutting users' power bills in the process, Tehcworld reports.

The new regulations will come into force in April 2010, limiting the energy that the power supplies can waste - and the regulations will tighten again in April 2011.

As well as wasting power while on standby mode, some devices waste energy even when turned off because they use external power supplies to convert the high-voltage alternating current from the wall outlet into the low-voltage direct current they need. Those external power supplies contain transformers, rectifiers, regulators and smoothing circuits that consume energy as long as they're plugged into the wall.

Most consumers are unaware of this.

The European Commission reckons that by 2020, devices in the European Union will be wasting enough electricity to power the whole of Lithuania (population almost 3.5 million).

The new rules set standards for the energy that the power supplies may waste in two situations: 'no load,' when the power supply is plugged in, but the device is turned off or not connected, and normal use.

While the no-load rules apply to all external power supplies, some of the less energy-hungry devices connected to them will be exempt from other regulations limiting standby power. That step was taken to avoid posing too great a burden on manufacturers, according to a Commission official.