This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

February 13, 2008

New Energy Star Requirements Cut Energy Use in Operating TVs

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized new Energy Star specifications for televisions on February 5, expanding the requirements to address the energy used while operating. Energy Star is a joint program of EPA and DOE, and the current requirements for Energy Star-labeled TVs focus on the energy used while the unit is turned off, requiring most units to consume less than a watt of power, but allowing units with illuminated displays to consume up to two watts of power. The requirement is looser for digital-cable-ready TVs, allowing them to use up to three watts without a cable card installed or up to 15 watts with the cable card installed.

The new specifications, which take effect on November 1, involve complicated formulas to set the maximum power allowed when operating, accounting for the size and resolution of the television. The requirements are less complicated for standby modes, setting the maximum power consumption at one watt (for digital-cable-ready TVs, the requirement applies for units without a cable card installed). The net result is that Energy Star-labeled TVs will consume 30% less power than conventional TVs. That's important, as there are now 275 million TVs in use in the United States, consuming more than 50 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year.

According to the EPA, the new standards should save about $1 billion annually in energy costs, while avoiding the greenhouse gas emissions equal to that of one million cars. The EPA is already planning ahead, intending to tighten its requirements in 2010, but the agency has not yet set those future specifications. See the EPA press release and the current specifications and new specifications on the Energy Star Web site.