Television energy efficiency is improving dramatically

Imagine a 46-inch TV that costs just $12 a year to operate.

In the Sixth Northwest Power Plan (2010), the Council identified improving energy efficiency of televisions as a major source of reduced demand for electricity over the 20-year horizon of the plan. Turns out that the energy efficiency of televisions is improving a lot quicker than expected. Televisions made today use about half as much electricity as sets made just three years ago -- even after adjusting for an increase in average screen size.

Moreover, the market share of Energy Star or better televisions increased from less than 20 percent in 2009 to nearly 100 percent in 2012, despite the fact that the Energy Star specifications became increasingly stringent over that time, according to a report by the Council’s power planning staff.

Many parties contributed to this success. In 2009, the California Energy Commission adopted new efficiency standards for televisions that went into effect in two phases -- first in 2011 and then in 2013. Because of the size of the California market, the impact was evident throughout the industry as those standards took effect. The California action gave a boost to efforts of the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, which worked with major electronics retailers and manufacturers to increase the share of high-efficiency televisions on display and ordered for inventory. These efforts, in combination with the improved national Energy Star specifications and revolutionary advances in technology led to the rapid improvements in television efficiency, according to the report.

In the Sixth Plan, the Council assumed efficiency improvements in televisions would account for 390 average megawatts, or 6.6 percent, of the efficiency goal of 5,900 average megawatts over the 20 years of the plan. Television savings were anticipated to contribute  approximately 36 average megawatts, or about 3 percent, of the efficiency goal for the first five years of the plan, 1,200 average megawatts. However, regional savings from televisions from 2010 through 2012 already total 56 average megawatts and are anticipated to grow to over 116 average megawatts by 2015.