California sets energy rules for TVs

Nov. 20, 2009 at 12:25 PM
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SACRAMENTO, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- California has become the first U.S. state to adopt energy efficiency requirements for television.

The standards, approved this week by the California Energy Commission, require that new televisions sold in the state consume 33 percent less electricity by 2011 and 49 percent less electricity by 2013.

The standards affect only those TVs with a screen size 58 inches or smaller. TVs with screens larger than 58 inches, including home theater systems, are likely to be addressed in the next few years.

The rule does not apply to any of the approximately 35 million TV sets currently in use of for sale in California. The commission said that about three-quarters of TV sets now in stores comply with the 2011 standards and 25 percent meet the tougher 2013 rule.

California estimates that after 10 years, the regulations will save $8.1 billion in energy costs and save enough energy to power 864,000 single-family homes. Pacific Gas & Electric estimates that over a decade the standards will reduce CO2 emissions by 3.3 million tons.

"It is the real, achievable policies like the first-in-the-nation standards adopted by the Energy Commission today that have made California a world leader in the fight against climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions," California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a statement.

Since the sale of flat-panel TVs started booming in the early 2000s, TV-related power usage has more than tripled to 10 billion kilowatt hours per year, said Arthur Rosenfeld, a nuclear physicist and member of the commission, the Los Angeles Times reports. This usage accounts for nearly 10 percent of residential electricity consumption.

Rosenfeld noted that the state's energy regulations have had favorable outcomes in the past. In the 1970s, California banned energy-guzzling refrigerators and air conditioners. Before the ban, the average refrigerator in California consumed 2,000 kilowatt hours per year of electricity, Rosenfeld said. Now the energy usage for a typical refrigerator has been slashed to 400 kilowatt hours per year, costs less and has more consumer-friendly features.

According to the commission, the state's per capita electricity use has remained flat for 30 years compared to the rest of the United States, which has increased its energy consumption by 40 percent.

The Consumer Electronics Association issued a statement denouncing the regulations as "dangerous for the California economy, dangerous for technology innovation and dangerous for consumer freedom."

"Instead of allowing customers to choose the products they want, the commission has decided to impose arbitrary standards that will hamper innovation and limit consumer choice," the statement said, noting that in the last two years, energy efficiency of TVs has improved by 41 percent.

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