Televisions will soon need to be 40 percent more energy-efficient than conventional models to achieve the Energy Star label. Currently, Energy Star-qualified TVs use about 30 percent less energy than conventional models, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revised the specifications on Sept. 3.
Under the new requirements, which take effect on May 1, 2010, TVs must use less energy when turned on, while still ensuring a satisfactory level of brightness. TVs must also curb the power needed to download program guide data. According to the EPA, if all TVs sold in the United States met the new Energy Star requirements, U.S. residents would save $2.5 billion annually in energy costs.
An even stricter threshold will take effect on May 2, 2012, achieving a 65 percent savings over conventional TVs. In setting the higher standard, the EPA struggled with the option of limiting the size of TV screens, because the energy consumption of TV screens tends to be proportional to their area. According to the EPA, U.S. consumers are expected to buy more than 19 million TVs with screens larger than 40 inches in 2010, and the steady shift toward big-screen TVs could increase household energy use. But rather than explicitly restricting the screen size, the EPA set a maximum power use of 108 watts when the TV is on. That will limit the number of big-screen TVs that qualify for the Energy Star, but the EPA notes that some TVs available today are larger than 50 inches and already meet the higher standard.
Energy Star is a joint program of U.S. Department of Energy and the EPA.