NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 6, 2009

That 52-inch, flat-screen television on the family room wall may have a terrific picture, but there's a big drawback: It's an energy hog.  State regulators in California are getting ready to curb the growing power gluttony of TV sets by drafting the nation's first rules requiring retailers to sell only the most energy-efficient models, starting in 2011.

The California Energy Commission is looking for ways to relieve the strain on the power grid.

  • During a peak viewing time when most sets are on, such as the Super Bowl, TVs in the state collectively suck up the equivalent of 40 percent of the power generated by the San Onofre nuclear power station running at full capacity.
  • Moreover, televisions account for about 10 percent of the average Californian's monthly household electricity bill.

Sales of television sets are growing by 4 million a year, the vast majority of them flat-panels. LCD -- liquid crystal display -- sets use 43 percent more electricity, on average, than conventional tube TVs; larger models use proportionately more.  Plasma TVs, which command a relatively small share of the market, need more than three times as much power as bulky, old-style sets.

Officials say the standards, once fully in place, would reduce the state's annual energy needs by an amount equivalent to the power consumed by 86,400 homes. 

But the consumer electronics industry opposes the regulations, expected to pass in mid-2009, claiming they could remove some TVs from store shelves and slightly boost sticker prices.

Source:  Marc Lifsher, "Flat-screen TVs to Face Energy-Efficiency Rules in California," Los Angeles Times, January 3, 2009.


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