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Televisions are home energy hogs

November 3, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Many of the appliances in your home have to meet minimum federal energy standards. But that's not the case for your TV and it's one of the biggest energy hogs in your home. California has always been a leader in energy conservation and has some of the strictest state rules about energy consumption. And because electronics manufacturers have complied with those rules, power consumption here is among the lowest per capita in the country. But now it looks like they'll be asked again to adhere to even tougher standards.

Nicholas Violin has three TVs in his home, which is about average for an American household. And like most people, he doesn't know how much energy his televisions consume.

"I have no idea how much energy my TV uses at all," said Violin.

The California Energy Commission says 10 percent of home energy use is from power-hungry TVs and it wants to impose the nation's first regulations to reduce energy use on all sets under 58 inches.

"Californians will save about $8.1 billion in the first 10 years that these standards are in effect," Karen Douglas, from the California Energy Commission, said. "That is enough energy to power 860,000 homes."

But retailers contend they could lose 20 percent of their sales because manufacturers will be forced to pull some products out of California and consumers would go online to buy sets from out of state retailers.

"This company has been in California for 61 years, employs 150 people, so that if you take away 20 percent of our business, could we survive, right now? I am not sure," Ken Cranes Vice President Steve Caldero said.

Regulators claim the industry is "crying wolf" just like manufacturers did in the late '70s when California set energy efficiency standards for refrigerators, causing national standards to follow. Today refrigerators are bigger and use a quarter of the energy. Many say that the same could happen with televisions.

"The federal government will often watch California and will often later adopt standards that we develop and we pioneer here," said Douglas.

In the meantime, both sides believe consumers should be educated on ways to save energy. In fact, most of today's TVs could meet the proposed standards just by lowering the brightness level.

Another energy savings tip is to unplug your TV when you're not using it. Believe it or not even when your TV is off it is using energy so the savings can really add up.


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