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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

California Sets Energy Efficiency Standards For Televisions

By Environment Man

The California Energy Commission (CEC) voted 5-0 to approve the nation's first efficiency regulations for TVs of up to 58 inches sold in the state. The regulations will take effect in 2011. The California standard takes aim at energy-hogging LCD and plasma sets, was motivated by a finding that televisions now account for as much as 10% of home electricity use—equivalent to refrigerators. About 30 million televisions are sold each year nationally; between four million and five million are sold in California. Old-fashioned sets with conventional cathode-ray tubes use about 100 watts of power when turned on, while newer plasma sets often use four times as much electricity.

Consumers usually are unaware of sets' energy demands because there is no required disclosure. The state agency will require television makers to include energy data on product packaging beginning in 2011 so consumer can make comparisons before they buy.

Under the standard, no television with a screen size less than 58 inches can be sold in California after 2011 unless it meets certain "energy factors," or limits on energy consumption. The standard tightens further in 2013. It replaces a rule that only considered energy use when sets were in standby mode. Sets sold in California under the standard would consume 33% less electricity in 2011 and 49% less in 2013 than the average set sold today, according to the CEC.

The California standard uses a formula to compute acceptable energy use. For example, a 36-inch screen would be limited to 148 watts in 2011 and 95 watts in 2013, whether it is a CRT, plasma or LCD. For a 42-inch screen, the limit would be 183 watts or less in 2011, and 115 watts or less by 2013. The commission estimates that switching to more efficient TVs would save an average of $30 per set per year and $8.1 billion in electricity bills statewide over the first decade. Moving to more efficient televisions would eliminate the need to build at least one large, gas-fired electric power plant, according to the CEC. (WSJ, 11/18/09, LA Times, 11/18/09)
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