Frequently Asked Questions - FAQs
Energy Efficiency Standards for Televisions

Picture of LCD televisions in showroom.

What exactly is being proposed for new televisions?

The California Energy Commission is proposing energy efficiency standards for new televisions measuring 58 inches (1,400 square inches) and smaller in California beginning in 2011 and 2013. The standards would improve the energy efficiency of televisions without affecting the quality of the television.

Is California considering banning plasma, large screen, or HD televisions?

No, the state is not banning any type of TV. Consumers have the freedom to choose any type and size of television that meets the efficiency standard.

Why propose energy efficiency standards for televisions now?

In California, televisions (along with DVRs, DVD players, and cable boxes)
now consume 10 percent of a home's electricity. Increasing sales of flat screen
televisions, larger screen sizes, the growing number of TVs per household, and
increased daily use of televisions all contribute to greater electricity consumption.

Does this affect the television in my home?

No, the proposed standard has no effect on existing televisions. It only applies to TVs sold in California after January 1, 2011.

Why enact these regulations?

These proposed standards will save consumers money on their electricity bill, conserve energy, protect the environment, and achieve it with on-the-shelf technology currently available. Additionally, these regulations will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and decrease the need to build additional, large power plants.

When will this new technology be available?

The technology to make TVs more energy efficient is available now and currently used now in a variety of models. More than 1,000 models already meet the 2011 standard. See a list of models that already meet these proposed standards. (PDF file, 105 kb)

Will this proposal cause job losses in California?

A high-powered television industry lobby assumes that televisions that do not comply with the proposed efficiency standards will simply go away leaving a void in the marketplace. For an industry that prides itself in innovation, this premise is simply flawed. Innovation, like energy efficiency, drives the market and offers new televisions with new features for a media-savvy consumer. New energy-efficient models will take the place of non-compliant TVs offering the same or better picture and performance. Consumers overwhelmingly want efficient TVs, retailers now will be able to market their products to a desirable demographic.

Who is supporting these proposals?

The largest manufacturer of flat screen TVs in the nation, Vizio; television component manufacturers 3M and Agoura Technologies; the LCD Television Association; the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and all three major California electric utility companies (Pacific Gas and Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric, and Southern California Edison) endorse the proposed regulations.

Many well-known retailers including Wal*Mart, Costco, and Sam's Club have all agreed to emphasize selling energy efficient TVs.

When would these proposed standards take effect?

The first standard (Tier 1) would take effect January 1, 2011, and reduce energy consumption by average of 33 percent. The second measure (Tier 2) would take effect in 2013 and, in conjunction with Tier 1, reduce energy consumption by an average of 49 percent.

Why are energy efficiency standards important?

Despite increased population and more appliances consuming power in homes and businesses, energy efficiency standards have helped keep per capita electricity consumption in California flat for the past 30 years.

California's per capita electricity consumption has remained constant at approximately 7,000 kilowatt-hours/year (kWh) for the last 30 years due in large part to strict standards for homes and appliances. The rest of the U.S. has increased 40 percent (to roughly 12,000 kWh/year per person). See U.S. Per Capita Electricity Use By State.

While new power plants with an installed capacity of 13,180 megawatts were built in the last 10 years, efficiency standards have helped the state avoid building several additional power plants.

Why not regulate refrigerators instead?

Actually, the Energy Commission has passed regulations on refrigerators, air conditioners, and lighting among other appliances. By implementing standards on inefficient refrigerators 30 years ago, Californians now enjoy less expensive appliances and greater comfort, features, and convenience at 25 percent of the electricity consumption. Refrigerators today use one-fourth the amount of electricity as those 30 years ago.

Why does the Energy Commission issue efficiency standards?

Energy efficiency is the cleanest and cheapest form of "renewable" energy. Part of the Commission's mandate is to adopt energy efficiency standards for appliances that require a significant amount of energy on a statewide basis. Regulations proposed by the Energy Commission must be cost-effective, energy efficient, and technically feasible.

How much will this add to my cost for buying a new television?

In most cases, adding efficiency technologies in televisions does not result in increased cost of the television because other components can be reduced, offsetting any increased cost.

How much money can these proposals save?

These proposals can save consumers $18 to nearly $30 per year per television.

How much energy can these proposals save consumers?

After the existing stock of televisions is replaced, these proposed standards will save 3,831 gigawatt hours (GWh) in 2011; 2,684 GWh in 2013. The total savings is 6,515 GWh.

What does 6,515 gigawatt hours translate to?

The total energy savings of 6,515 GWh is enough energy to power 864,000 single-family homes for an entire year. That's enough electricity to power the cities of Anaheim, Burbank, Glendale, and Palo Alto combined.

How many televisions are there in California?

There are an estimated 35 million TVs in California consuming 8,772 gigawatt hours annually. A gigawatt hour is equivalent to having 40,000 televisions on for five hours a day for an entire year.

Why propose standards if the federal Energy Star® program already exists?

The national Energy Star® program is a voluntary program that induces manufacturers to produce efficient televisions to achieve an Energy Star label but does not prevent the sale of inefficient televisions that will cost consumers money over time. Most Energy Star televisions on sale today already meet the proposed Tier 1 standard.

Will these standards lead to an Internet 'black market' for noncompliant TVs?

No, the Energy Commission is working with major online retailers to ensure that televisions sold in California comply with the new energy efficiency regulations.

What is the next step in the process?

The Energy Commission will consider comments received in January and consider changes to the proposed standards. Additional public input will be sought at stakeholders meetings, public hearing, and written comments. A vote on this proposal is expected by summer 2009.

How much wattage do different types (CRT - cathode ray tube, liquid crystal display - LCD, plasma) of televisions use?

It's hard to compare CRTs to LCDs and plasmas. On average, CRTs use 0.23-watts per square inch of the screen, LCDs use 0.27-watts per square inch, and plasmas use 0.36-watts per square inch. Below are comparisons of the "average size" of each type of television and the wattage they use, and a comparison of wattage used by a 42-inch LCD versus a 42-inch plasma.

There are few direct-view CRTs that are as large as the big LCDs and plasma TVs. A 40-inch (diagonal), direct-view HDTV is the industry's largest direct-view cathode ray tube. It uses 280 watts while in operation and only one watt in stand-by mode.

Where can I read more about this issue?

There have been dozens of newspaper articles and editorials about the proposed regulations. Please see our collection of stories and links.

graphic showing comparison by size of televisions with wattage consumed

Is there more information online?

Energy Commission has released a staff report detailing the proposed efficiency standards. Download it below:

2009 Appliance Efficiency Rulemaking, Phase 1, Part C - Docket #09-AAER-C
Posted: September 18, 2009. (PDF file, 55 pages, 992 kilobytes)

Additional information about the October 13, 2009, hearing:

Hearing Notice and Notice of Proposed Action, posted September 18, 2009. (PDF file, 12 pages, 156 kb)

What is the California Energy Commission?

Created by the Legislature in 1974, California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency. Among its responsibilities is promoting energy efficiency by setting appliance and building efficiency standards and working with local government to enforce those standards.