CA Set To Curb Energy-Guzzling TVs

September 30, 2009

Flat-screen TVs — the hallmark home appliance of the 21st century, so far — can be stunningly energy-inefficient. Especially the 40-inch-and-larger sets that use liquid crystal (LCD) or plasma technology. Since the June 2009 national transition to digital TV broadcasts nudged even more Americans to junk their tube TVs and buy new flat screen models, home energy consumption attributable to TVs has risen steadily.

On Sept. 18, the CA Energy Commission proposed tougher energy efficiency standards for TVs. These are likely to be formally adopted by CEC after a 45-day public comment period. Given the size of CA's consumer market, this move could shift manufacturing processes significantly, potentially improving the energy efficiency of TVs sold throughout the US.

The L.A. Times reported: "The rules, which took more than a year to develop, are designed to shave $8.1 billion off Californians' electricity bills over a 10-year-period. That works out to $30 per set per year, according to commission officials."

The proposed rule would adopt efficiency standards for active mode, standby mode, power factor, luminance control, and labeling, in televisions with a screen area fewer than 1,400 square inches.

CA's proposed standards would have no effect on existing televisions. According to the proposal: "If approved, they would only apply to TVs sold in CA after January 1, 2011. The first standard (Tier 1) would take effect January 1, 2011, and reduce energy consumption by average of 33 percent. The second measure (Tier 2) would take effect in 2013 and, in conjunction with Tier 1, reduce energy consumption by an average of 49 percent." The rules would apply to screens 58 inches wide and smaller.

  • California Energy Commission, Energy Efficiency and Renewables Division, Appliances and Process Energy Office: 916-654-4091, email.

According to CNET, the CEC move "Is significant because California's efficiency policies have been able to ratchet down household energy consumption without sacrificing product features in the past. An often-cited example is that tough energy efficiency codes on refrigerators in the state have helped keep per capita electricity consumption steady since the 1970s, even though electricity use from other appliances keeps rising."

The Consumer Electronics Association is rallying against the CEC proposal, claiming that TV production and purchases are the "one bright spot" in CA's economy during the recession, and that the more stringent standards would cost jobs. CEA press: Meghan Henning, 703-907-7654; or Jennifer Bemisderfer, 703-907-4322.