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Say Hello to Stricter TV Standards

January 25, 2011 - 6:30am

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Two years ago, I described the ENERGY STAR® designation for television sets. Last month I explained how the Federal Trade Commission is requiring manufacturers to place yellow EnergyGuide labels on all television sets beginning later this year.

This year—2011—is going to be another banner year for consumers shopping for a new television set. Standards are being tightened. No, not TV broadcasting standards, but the energy efficiency standards for television sets. If you and/or your kids watch a lot of television, this could take a nice slice off of your electricity bills when you buy a new TV.

California passed legislation last year to set higher energy conservation standards for television sets sold within the state of California. Stricter standards went into effect with the ringing in of the New Year. The new 2011 standards are estimated to reduce energy consumption of the average new television set by about a third. Stricter energy conservation standards governing maximum in-use power consumption go into effect on January 1, 2013. The 2011/2013 standards are estimated to cut total TV energy consumption almost in half compared to pre-2011 models.

As of late 2009, more than a thousand TV models met the 2011 standards, comprising all of the technologies that you've come to enjoy, including plasma and LCD. Hundreds of models already meet the 2013 standards. Manufacturers have been making a lot of effort over the past couple of years to reduce the power consumption of TVs. For example, LED (light emitting diode) technology is expected to be the leading backlight technology for LCD TV sets sold throughout the United States in 2011. This bodes well for consumers, since LED technology is much more energy efficient than the lighting source common in older sets.

The in-use power consumption, in watts, must be marked, permanently and legibly, on an accessible and conspicuous place on each new TV set sold in California that was manufactured on or after January 1, 2011. Moreover, any publication, website, document, or retail display advertising the sale in California of a television set manufactured on or after January 1, 2011, and that includes a description of the physical dimensions of the television must include the identical in-use power consumption, in watts, immediately following and in the same font and same font size as the description of the physical dimensions. Thus, consumers nationwide will be able to view this energy consumption information when surfing certain websites, making it easier to compare the energy consumption of different models.

Now, unless you live in California, or buy your television from a merchant in California, you aren't directly affected. However, there's a saying in the energy arena that goes something like this: As California goes, so goes the rest of the nation. Federal regulations on energy conservation standards are coming that will help all U.S. consumers.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is currently taking the steps required to ensure that a test procedure and standard are modernized and established to capture the energy consumption of current television sets. After receiving and evaluating comments on the proposal, DOE may proceed with establishing a test procedure and nation-wide energy efficiency standard for television sets.

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