Mandating Energy Efficiency for TVs

Almost everyone in the country has one product or another that boasts the ENERGY STAR rating. As consumers focus more and more on saving energy, manufacturers must comply and offer more energy efficient solutions or run the risk of being outdone by competitors.

While some industries have very strict standards to comply with ENERGY STAR, many believe that regulations for consumer electronics fall flat. Currently, manufacturers only have to provide a product that consumes less than one watt of electricity while in standby mode. Yes, for a lot of products achieving this is a major feat, but there are concerns among the public about how much energy a product consumes while turned on.

The California Energy Commission has taken the first steps to combating this problem. The saying goes, as California goes, so goes the nation. The CEC has focused their attention on the energy consumption of flat panels, an essential piece of equipment for most homeowners. The Commission estimates that TV viewing is responsible for about 10% of all residential electricity use in California, and considering growing set sizes and increased usage, that percentage is only going to get larger.  

The CEC has put together a proposal that would require all televisions sold in California to meet new energy efficient standards starting in 2011. The first tier would take place in January of 2011 and would reduce TV energy consumption by 32%. The second tier would take effect in January of 2013 and would require 49% less energy consumption than today’s standards. Should the proposal be approved, all California retailers (big box and specialty) would only be allowed to sell TVs that meet the new standards.

The CEC is estimating that new standards could save consumers $18-$30 per year, per television.

While the proposal has gained the support of all three major California utility companies, the Consumer Electronics Association believes that the forced regulation could place unnecessary burden upon manufacturers, especially giving the current state of the economy. They fear new standards could cause job loss and lower tax revenue.

Another pushback to the new proposed standards is what will happen when consumers can’t purchase the TV they want because it doesn’t meet the requirements. What’s to say they won’t go to online sources, creating a revenue loss among California retailers?

Granted, I believe that this has the makings of a great program. I would love to see it take effect all over the country, not just California (which could eliminate the online sales aspect). There are a lot of questions that need to be answered, and I would love to hear manufacturers’ thoughts to the proposed mandate. Ultimately it is a step in the right direction, the question is will it become a national trend?

Posted by: Lauren

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