The California Energy Commission has awarded the UC Irvine division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology $1 million to further its research on plug-load devices, including creating more energy efficiency and providing data to support future Title 20 Appliance Efficiency Standards. The allocation, funded by the commission’s Public Interest Energy Research program, was one of several for energy-related research projects throughout the state.

Plug-load devices include consumer and office electronics, appliances and some tools – anything that plugs into an electrical outlet. They are responsible for as much as 20 percent of the electrical consumption in buildings, and by 2030 are expected to account for 30 percent.

Many consume power even when they are not in use; research will focus on creating more energy efficiency, providing the foundation for future standards.

“There is a lot of potential in the area of standards for plug-load devices, so we think our research will make a large impact,” said G.P. Li, director of the Calit2 Irvine division.

Among the first plug loads to be researched are set-top boxes, which generally contain a tuner and connect to a TV set and an external signal source, turning the signal into content that is then displayed on a screen or other display device.

The institute’s efforts will extend beyond technical innovation. “It’s critical to develop business collaborations and include analysis of consumer behavior and innovative ways to educate consumers,” Li said. “All of this must link together if we are to find truly effective and practical solutions.”

The California Energy Commission, created by the legislature in 1974, is the state’s primary energy policy and planning agency. The commission has five major responsibilities: forecasting energy needs and keeping historical data; licensing thermal power plants 50 megawatts or larger; promoting energy efficiency through appliance and building standards; developing technologies and supporting renewable energy; and planning for and directing state response to energy emergency.

Since it began in 1996, the Public Interest Energy Research program has invested more than $700 million in projects with millions in tangible ratepayer benefits. The results from PIER investment continue to save money, reduce energy demand, increase reliability and security, leverage ratepayer dollars, and protect energy resources, environment and public health to provide a better California quality of life.

About Calit2@UCI: The California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology is a multidisciplinary research institute that develops information technology-based innovations. By integrating academic research with industry experience, the institute seeks to benefit society, incubate new technology companies and ignite economic developments. Calit2 focuses on the digital transformation of healthcare, energy, the environment and culture.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UCI is among the most dynamic campuses in the University of California system, with nearly 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 1,100 faculty and 9,000 staff. Orange County’s largest employer, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $4.2 billion. For more UCI news, visit

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