The European Union has established new rules slated to take place a year from now that put restrictions on power adapter units, ranging from those that charge a cell phone to those that are used with laptops. The primary goal is to improve efficiency as these devices are commonly known for leaking power, even when the devices are fully charged or turned off while plugged into the wall.
The goal is to get adapters down to less than a half watt of power consumption when not in use by 2010, and less than a third of a watt a year later. A third of a watt may not seem like much, but to put things in a better perspective, the European Commission calculates that if the current trend of consumption was to continue by 2020 devices in the EU would be wasting enough electricity to power the whole of Lithuania (population of 3.5 million).
The new rules also specify that high capacity adapters must meet a certain efficiency requirement, 86% or greater, with lower-power adapters requiring less efficiency. These newer requirements are similar to those set forth recently by US Energy Star, so devices designed to meet one spec will most likely pass the other.