California standards 'could cut TV power in half'

Television power consumption limits imposed by California's Energy Commission (CEC) could cut aggregate annual power consumption of LCD-TVs worldwide in half by the year 2013, if these standards are adopted universally, according to iSuppli.

If all of the 200 million LCD TVs set to be shipped in 2013 complied with the CEC standard, they would use a total of 64.4 billion kilowatt-hours for the year, compared to 126.8 billion if they didn't, iSuppli estimates. This represents a 50 per cent decline in power consumption. With indications that other states may follow California’s lead, and with the United States the world’s largest LCD-TVs market, it’s conceivable that CEC-style regulations could spread throughout the country and the world.

The CEC regulations conform with US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Energy Star 3.0 and 4.0 guidelines. But the US Consumer Electronics Association is warning that the CEC mandates will damage consumer choice and technological innovation. The trade organisation stated the regulations will result in higher prices for consumers, job losses for Californians, and lost tax revenue for the state.

According to iSuppli, the regulations could reduce California tax revenue as consumers purchase larger-sized LCD-TVs through out-of-state channels. Further, the regulations could end sales of certain products in the state, such larger-sized plasma televisions. However, with both the industry and consumers already embracing greener televisions that consume less power, the negative impacts of the CEC regulations are likely to be limited.

“While the CEA has legitimate concerns, the CEC regulations simply follow suit with the EPA’s Energy Star 3.0 and 4.0 guidelines,” said Randy Lawson, senior analyst for display electronics at iSuppli. “Television makers already have been working to cut the power consumption of their products so they can earn the coveted Energy Star label. Furthermore, iSuppli’s research indicates that consumers increasingly are aware of power consumption issues, and are likely to gravitate toward sets that use less electricity. Because of this, television brands will still be offering a plethora of product choices that will be attractive to consumers.”

An iSuppli survey revealed that 46.1 per cent of US consumers in the third quarter said green factors influenced their television purchasing decisions. The same survey showed that 43.4 per cent of those consumers considered power savings to be the most important green feature.
The television industry represents the key battleground for reducing energy consumption in the consumer electronics business.

“Due to sweeping changes in the television technology that have occurred during the past five or six years—changes which show no sign of slowing down—the problem of energy efficiency has come become a paramount consideration,” Lawson said. “The once-dominant CRT television set—with its much smaller average screen size and lower brightness—consumed much less power per year than today’s bright HD flat-panel sets.”

With regards to rising TV power consumption, the primary issue is not the CRT-to-LCD shift itself, but rather the shift to larger screen sizes that has accompanied that technology transition.

“At screen sizes smaller than 26 inches, there’s only a small difference between the energy consumption of current LCD TV displays and equivalent-sized CRTs, which maxed out at about 35 inches,” Lawson observed. “However, larger screen sizes, such as the popular 37, 40, 42 and 50in flat panel screens, consume dramatically more energy than the older, much smaller CRT screens.”

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