California Considers HDTV Energy Consumption Limits

April 6, 2009
SACRAMENTO, CALIF.: The California Energy Commission is considering energy limits for HDTV sets. The proposal would cap the energy usage of hi-def sets while they are on. Current regulations cover only standby mode, which is capped at consumption of 3 watts per hour.

The new proposed standard would drop standby to 1 watt, and cap maximum power using a formula related to screen size. (Active power consumption varies with display technologies, e.g., cathode ray tubes use around 0.23 watts per square inch, versus 0.27 for LCD and 0.36 for plasma.) Sales of TV sets exceeding the standard would be banned in California.

The CEC estimates that TVs in the state are on more than an average of five hours a day, and screen sizes are getting bigger all the time.

“At present, the total energy used by television viewing, with programming recording and playback equipment connected, is estimated to represent about 10 percent of residential electricity use,” the CEC’s draft proposal reads.

Based on data submitted by Pacific Gas & Electric, the state’s primary energy provider, the CEC estimated that there are 35 million TV sets in California using 8,772 gigawatt hours annually. One gigawatt hour is equal to having 40,000 TV sets on for five hours every day for a year.

The energy limits would be imposed with a two-tier system that would reduce consumption around 33 percent in 2011 and 49 percent on average in 2013.

The Consumer Electronics Association, representing the TV manufacturers, blasted the proposal, saying it would cost the state $50 million and 4,600 retail jobs. It said 80 percent of LCDs 35-to-39 inches and all plasmas 60 inches or larger would be banned under the proposal. The CEA noted that a majority of larger TV sets sold already meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star standards. -- Deborah D. McAdams

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