California sets energy limits for new televisions


SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California Energy Commission on
Wednesday approved the nation’s first energy-efficiency standards for

The rules will phase in starting in 2011 and set a cap on
the amount of power a TV can draw. Large sets can draw more power than small
ones. All models larger than 58 inches are exempt from the regulations, though
they may be covered in the future.

All televisions will have to draw less than 1 watt of
“standby” power when turned off and plugged in. New televisions would
be tagged with labels giving details on energy demands, as refrigerators and
other appliances are.

The rules, approved by a unanimous vote, have no impact on
televisions already in homes.

Industry groups argued that the regulations were unnecessary
because televisions have been getting more efficient anyway. They say market
forces and voluntary federal efficiency programs will be enough to continue
that trend.

The amount of energy used by televisions has jumped in the
last decade as screen sizes have increased and the number of televisions per
household has grown.

More than 1,000 televisions — about three-quarters of the
U.S. market — already meet the 2011 standards.

Energy Commission staff members characterize the models not
yet in compliance with the rules as technological laggards that haven’t
incorporated up-to-date efficiency measures.

Industry groups claim that some new full-featured television
models have heavy power demands, and that power restrictions could constrict
innovation. However, a spokesman for the Plasma Display Coalition was not able
to provide an example of a 2009-model television that would not meet the 2011
standards because it incorporates the latest features.

The Energy Commission has claimed that the program will save
consumers $8.1 billion on their energy bills over the first 10 years the
regulation is in effect. That’s almost certainly an overstatement, since it
assumes that if the regulations were not adopted, consumers would continue to
buy models that use as much energy as those sold in 2007 and 2008, rather than
the more-efficient models already on the market today and likely to be sold in
the future.

Via McClatchy-Tribune News Service.