Major US technology companies, including Google and Intel, are backing a group that aims to reduce the amount of electricity used by personal computers.

The Climate Savers Computing Initiative hopes to save $5.5bn in energy a year. The initiative’s other members include Dell, Microsoft IBM, eBay and HP, who say they are committed to building energy-efficient products that meet or surpass the EPA’s Energy Star guidelines.

Members of the group will also be asked by the initiative to require high efficiency systems for the majority of their corporate desktop PCs and use power management tools. Over 25 additional organisations, such as environmental groups, energy companies, retailers, government agencies, have also signed up.

The organisation was initially developed by Google and Intel to help increase the energy efficiency of computers and servers. By 2010 the Initiative hopes to reduce global CO2 emissions produced by computer operations by 54 million tonnes a year. The group focuses on two main areas: designing more efficient computing systems and using advanced power management settings on IT equipment.

“Today, the average desktop PC wastes nearly half of its power, and the average server wastes one-third of its power,” said Urs Hölzle, senior vice president, Operations & Google Fellow. “The Climate Savers Computing Initiative is setting a new 90 percent efficiency target for power supplies.”

“By 2010, the Climate Savers Computing Initiative will cut greenhouse gas emissions in an amount equal to removing more than 11 million cars from the road or shutting down 20 500-megawatt coal-fired power plants - a significant step in reducing the emissions affecting our planet,” said Pat Gelsinger, senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s Digital Enterprise Group.