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Your TV should not be a couch potato too

The California Energy Commission is considering a proposal by PG&E to require televisions sold in the state to meet a minimum efficiency standard. Why is a utility proposing its customers by more efficient appliances? Because California allows utilities to earn a return on investment from negawatts (see Energy efficiency, Part 4).

PG&E’s proposal begins by plotting the power consumption (in Watts) of existing TVs against screen size and finding a linear fit. They then look at the most efficient (least power consumption) at a given size, and propose a cut-off formula based on screen size:

Native Vertical ResolutionTier 1: Effective 2011Tier 2: Effective 2013‰¤480 (i.e. non-HD)PMAX = 0.12*A + 25PMAX = 0.12*A + 25>480 (i.e. HD)PMAX = 0.20*A + 32PMAX = 0.12*A + 25California has kept its per-capita power consumption flat since the late 1970s. Appliance efficiency standards (Title 20) have been one component of its tactics.

The expected power savings are large. Today’s average 38-inch LCD draws 175W, but this would fall to 125W in 2011, and 103W in 2013. (125W would be low enough that you could power your TV with a Pedal-A-Watt.) Statewide the savings are significant:

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For First-Year SalesAfter Entire Stock TurnoverScenarioCoincident Peak Demand Reduction (MW)Annual Energy Savings (GWh/yr)Coincident Peak Demand Reduction (MW)Annual Energy Savings (GWh/yr)Tier 1333493623,831Tier 2232432532,684Tier 1 and 2 combined565936156,516The Consumer Electronics Association has submitted a counter-proposal to the CEC. They would substitute labeling and an educational campaign for efficiency standards.

— Earl K.

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