California Energy Commission May Adopt Rule to Limit Sales to Energy Star Compliant TVs

The California Energy Commission will likely adopt a stringent rule to limit sales of TVs to those that are Energy Star compliant. The proposal will include labels that show retail shoppers in California how much they will be saving on their utility bills. If this proposal is adopted it will be the first mandatory energy standard for TVs in the US.

TV retailers do not like this, for obvious reasons. Not all TVs are Energy Star compliant and if TV retailers are forced to take those off the shelves that would mean less business. Or would it? Also, if consumers cannot purchase the TV they want they will simply go online to purchase the product from other states. But this trend has been growing for quite some time now. 

Why is the California Energy Commission looking to adopt this proposal? Less energy consumption means some breathing room for California’s energy suppliers: less blackouts especially on really hot days during the summer. Pacific Gas & Electric is enthusiastically backing this standard. Grossly inaccurate claims by PG&E and the Plasma Display Coalition after the break.

TVs make up about 10% of the energy that a household uses according to Art Rosenfeld, a California energy commissioner. With even larger LCD TVs and power-guzzling plasma TVs that share can easily increase. A 50″ plasma TV can easily require more power than a large refrigerator according to California regulators. Really?

Well, let’s check that out. I went to LG’s website and the 50PG60 (PDF), a 50″ 1080p plasma TV consumes 540W (typical) and sips less than 1W in standby mode. Now let’s hop on over to a refrigerator. At Electrolux I found some power consumption figures burried deep in a PDF specifications file for the side-by-side refrigerator EI26SS55G: 1.02kW.

(I also found an Energy Star rating (PDF) of 555kWh (Estimated Yearly Electricity Use) for a GE Profile 23.2 Cu. Ft. Stainless-Wrapped Side-by-Side refrigerator. I have tried to wrap my head around how the Estimated Yearly Electricity Use is calculated but can’t seem to get a good feel for it. Maybe you can help me? The National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA) federal standard for calculating the Estimated Yearly Electricity Use can be seen in this Excel spreadsheet. In it you will find the typical side-by-side refrigerator with a freezer that has an automatic defrost and a through-the-door ice service (#7) to have this formula: 8.08*AV+324.8. AV stands for Adjusted Volume. Where does 8.08 and 324.8 come from? Who knows.)

The only spec that I can fall back on is the 1.02kW rating for the Electrolux. Comparing apples-to-apples, LG’s 50PG60 consumes about 50% of it. So I am simply going to argue that the California regulators are not completely correct about a 50″ plasma TV consuming just as much as a large refrigerator: you’ll need two 50″ plasma TVs.

The average cost of powering a single TV costs $35 to $75 per year depending on the type of TV and how often the TV is used. Well, this all depends on your total electricity usage since pricing is tiered not just how much TV is being used.

In the Associated Press article titled “Calif. weighs touch TV energy standards” Samantha Young points to a PG&E study that shows that compared to a CRT TV a plasma TV consumes more than three times the amount of energy. The only way to compare would have been to acquire a 36″ wide CRT TV (there were a few including Sony’s KV-36HS510) and a 37″ plasma TV. I went out and gathered some data: Panasonic’s TH-37PH9UK 37″ plasma TV consumes 300W when being used and 0.6W in standby mode. Sony’s 36″ KV-36HS510 on the other hand consumes 280W when operational and 1W in standby mode. The plasma TV consumes 7% more power than the CRT TV. Considering that the plasma TV is 1″ larger the power consumption is probably about equal. A plasma TV consumes more than three times that of a CRT TV? Hogwash! I am not sure how PG&E conducted the study but it sure doesn’t fit what I am digging up.

Another claim by PG&E: LCD TVs guzzle 43% more energy than CRT TVs. For some reason I find that very hard to believe. Sharp’s LC-37D64U is a 37″ LCD TV and consumes 180W. The Sony mentioned above at 280W consumes 56% more!

The interesting bits continue: “Rear-projection TVs, which fall between LCDs and plasmas in energy use, also would be covered by the new standards.” I thought rear-projection TVs consumed the LEAST out of all the TV technologies. Let’s investigate. Samsung’s HL-R4266W is a 42″ DLP rear projection TV and consumes 230W. The HL-R4266W is 6″ larger than the Sony KV-36HS510 yet consumes 50W less. What is PG&E smoking?!? Now I’m not sure I believe most of what has been written in that article.

According to the Plasma Display Coalition “all but one plasma TV on the market today would not be allowed for sale in California once the rules are fully implemented.” Bologna! I went to the Energy Star’s website, clicked on the “Qualified Televisions” (Excel) and found 86 plasma TV models that “meet ENERGY STAR requirements for On Mode efficiency as well as Standby Mode requirements listed in the Version 3.0 ENERGY STAR Program Requirements for TVs that will take effect November 1, 2008.” So, I guess the Plasma Display Coalition is also smoking the same thing that PG&E is.

I do agree that the extremely high end TVs will consume quite a bit more energy and will probably not be able to meet the Energy Star requirements. But, I did see among the 86 plasma TVs four Pioneer sets: two 60″ and two 50″. Two of these are the Elite KURO series (PRO-111FD, PRO-151FD) that are considered to be quite high-end and very expensive. I don’t think most specialty shops will need to worry about the new regulation taking away their business. I would worry more about Amazon.

Source: Associated Press

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