California Bans Most Televisions


As expected, California regulators voted today to ban televisions it deems as too power-hungry. The ban will mean that Californians won’t be able to legally buy the same quality televisions that are available in the rest of the country. Only around 25 per cent of televisions currently sold meet California’s energy standards.

From the AP:

The most power-hungry television sets could soon be banned from store shelves in California as state energy regulators on Wednesday consider a first-in-the nation mandate intended to lower electricity demand.

If adopted, the regulations will require televisions sold in California to be more energy efficient beginning in 2011. The requirement would be tougher in 2013, with only one-quarter of the TVs on the market currently meeting that standard.

The California Energy Commission estimates that TVs account for about 10 per cent of a home’s electricity use. The concern is that the energy draw will rise by as much as 8 per cent a year as consumers buy larger televisions, add more to their homes and watch them longer.

“This is a really big deal, because once standards are in effect it will cut California’s power bill by $1 billion a year and avoid the need to build a large, 500 megawatt power plant,” said Noah Horowitz, senior scientist at the Natural Resources defence Council. “We hope in the long term, every TV sold in America will be just as efficient as those sold in California.”

Some manufacturers say implementing a power standard will cripple innovation, limit consumer choice and harm California retailers because consumers could simply buy TVs out of state or order them online.

The standards would apply to all TVs up to 58 inches, allowing increasing power use for larger TVs.

For example, all new 42-inch television sets must use less than 183 watts by 2011 and less than 116 watts by 2013. That’s considerably more efficient than flat-screen TVs placed on the market in recent years.

A 42-inch Hitachi plasma TV sold in 2007 uses 313 watts while a 42-inch Sharp Liquid-crystal display, or LCD, TV draws 232 watts, according to Energy Commission research. LCDs now account for about 90 per cent of the 4 million TVs sold in California annually.

Industry representatives have said the standards would force manufacturers to make televisions that have poorer picture quality and fewer features than those sold elsewhere in the U.S.

California has previously led the nation in setting efficiency requirements for dishwashers, washing machines and other household appliances as a way to address the state’s growing electricity demand.

Utilities and environmental groups say the TV standards should head off steep increases in home electricity use and rising electric bills.

An energy-efficient TV would save a household roughly $30 a year per set in lowered electricity costs. If all 35 million TVs watched in the state were replaced with more efficient sets, Californians would save $8.1 billion over 10 years, according to the Energy Commission report.

Televisions account for about 2 per cent of California’s overall electricity use. Requiring them to be more energy efficient would save enough electricity to power 864,000 single-family homes a year in California by 2023. That’s enough for Anaheim, Burbank, Glendale and Palo Alto combined.

The electricity savings could help California meet the goals of its 2006 global warming law, which calls for the state to cut greenhouse gases 25 per cent by 2020.

TVs larger than 58 inches would not be covered under the rule, a concession to independent retailers that sell high-end home-theatre TVs. Those sets account for no more than 3 per cent of the market.

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