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National Energy Consumption Shrinks

Industry renews energy agreement

With more connected devices in American homes every year, the consumer technology industry has made it a priority to deliver more energy efficient broadband devices. Of the roughly 112 million U.S. homes with internet access, the majority connect by way of a networking device or router. In July, CTA and NCTA – National Cable & Telecommunications Association announced a four-year extension of an industry voluntary agreement to improve the energy efficiency of small network equipment (SNE).

Adopted in 2015, the agreement has already saved consumers both energy and money by improving the efficiency of home internet devices such as modems and routers by 20 percent. So far, it covers 89 percent of U.S. broadband households – roughly 95 million homes.

“DOE supports efforts by industry to voluntarily improve their energy productivity,” said Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. “We believe in reducing regulatory burdens on American families and encouraging the adoption of voluntary industry standards.”

Advances Underway The latest annual report by independent auditor D+R International demonstrates
the dramatic progress already achieved under the agreement. According to the report, 99.2 percent of SNE devices purchased or sold at retail by participants in 2017 met the agreement’s energy efficiency levels, with 100 percent of signatories meeting their commitment that 90 percent of their devices would meet these levels. Notably, these efficiency improvements have been achieved even as consumers demand increasingly robust equipment to support higher-speed services, better Wi-Fi strength and more Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

Under the extended agreement, signatories are required to meet new, more rigorous energy efficiency levels by 2020 that are on average 11 percent lower than the agreement’s current levels. To date, signatories include service providers: AT&T, Cablevision, CenturyLink, Charter, Comcast, Cox Communications, Frontier and Verizon; as well as leading device manufacturers Actiontec, ARRIS, D-Link, NETGEAR, Technicolor and Ubee Interactive.

The SNE agreement is modeled on the successful, award-winning Set-Top Box Energy Conservation Voluntary Agreement. According to that agreement’s most recent report, set-top boxes now use 40 percent less energy than the models purchased prior to the Voluntary Agreement. Since being signed in 2012, the STB agreement has saved consumers nearly $1.2 billion in energy costs and avoided 6.5 million metric tons of CO2 emissions.

Beyond network equipment and settop boxes, a new CTA report finds that while the number of tech devices in our homes has increased, their share of total energy use is steadily shrinking. Today, U.S. households' consumer tech devices consume 25 percent less energy than they did in 2010. The industry’s success can be attributed to investments in more lightweight materials and energy efficient technologies, as well as the convergence of multi-function devices and continuous innovation.

"Networking devices, and connected devices in general, have been a focus of the energy efficiency community globally,” says Doug Johnson, vice president of technology policy, CTA. “Voluntary agreements such as this are a great way to deliver on our energy savings and carbon emissions goals while protecting innovation and competition. Whether through voluntary initiatives or by developing products and services that are faster, smarter and reduce energy costs, the industry is constantly working toward improving the overall consumer experience.”

Elliot Grimm