California Adopts New TV Energy Efficiency Standards

California's Energy Commission has unanimously approved the nation's first energy efficiency standards for televisions, a move that the commission estimates will save $8.1 billion in energy costs after 10 years. The commission has enacted that all televisions smaller than 58 inches sold in California in 2011 must consume 33 percent less electricity and 49 percent less electricity by 2013.

"The real winners of these new TV energy efficiencies are California consumers, who will be saving billions of dollars and conserving energy while preserving their choice to buy any size or type of TV. Californians buy 4 million televisions each year and they deserve the most energy-efficient models available," said Energy Commission Chairman Karen Douglas in a statement.

Pacific Gas & Electric estimates that the new standards would reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by 3 million metric tons over the first decade.

The good news for TV manufacturers is that many products, more than 1,000 models today, already meet the 2011 standards, according to the commission. The new regulations will not affect existing TVs or any models bought in 2010, the commission said.

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LCD TVs use less energy than their similar-size traditional CRT televisions, but today's LCD models have reached sizes significantly bigger than CRT TVs that existed for decades.

Many technology manufacturers are already proactively looking for ways to cut energy costs with their products. At Synnex's Varnex conference this week in Palm Springs, Calif., Gary Koopman, vice president of distribution sales at Hewlett-Packard, noted that his company is coming out with desktop PCs that use 50 percent less energy. Stephen DiFranco, vice president of channels at Lenovo, said new LED displays will cut energy consumption even further from current LCD models.

Kevin Murai, CEO of Synnex, said technology companies are looking to partner with utility companies to provide rebates for businesses and users buying more energy-efficient models.

"Many utilities today have said they cannot support that growth going forward. Not only is it a good idea to figure a way to reduce energy consumption -- you may have to," Murai said. "It makes us better corporate citizens, but it also saves real money at the same time."