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Energy Efficiency

How large a roll will energy efficiency play in future HDTV purchases?

In a recent Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) consumer survey, it was noted that the No. 1 feature/performance/concern in the consumer purchase of an HDTV is energy efficiency. This was the first time in the history of tracking purchase decisions that I had seen energy efficiency as a top-rated concern. It is usually screen size, price or picture performance that garners the No. 1 spot. Consumers are obviously increasingly sensitive to the issue of energy consumption.

To illustrate the industry’s reaction to this growing sensitivity, here are some current industry activities being implemented to reign in the energy requirements for TV displays:

On Feb. 4, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved “Version 3.0 Energy Star TV Program Requirements” (Energy Star 3.0) which went into effect on Nov. 1. This new requirement can be downloaded here.

Energy Star 3.0, for the first time, imposes requirements on active-mode (on-mode) power consumption. Since the product cycles and introductions of TV manufacturers start much earlier in the year, it will be interesting to see if manufacturers claiming Energy Star will meet the new requirements for products entering the market in 2009. Energy Star 3.0 Tier 2 requirements will go into effect on Sept. 1, 2010, and those specific requirements are TBD.

Additionally, in May, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) proposed a set of on-mode power requirements for televisions in California to the California Energy Commission (CEC). This proposal was endorsed by the Southern California Gas Company, San Diego Gas and Electric, and Southern California Edison. If adopted, this proposal would create a regulation barring the sale of televisions with on-mode power consumption greater than specific thresholds (which are set below Energy Star 3.0 levels). PG&E has also stated that the power companies would be willing to provide incentives to consumers for the purchase of televisions that consume less power than is allowable.

Initially, it appeared that the CEC was willing to accept the PG&E proposal with minor revisions. The CEA and consumer electronics manufacturers immediately engaged the CEC and the California governor’s office, and were effective in delaying the CEC action. While it is on hold for now, the growing consumer concern over energy efficiency is a telling sign that this issue will come up again.

Energy Star 3.0 requires high-definition televisions that have a native resolution of greater than 480 native vertical resolution and consume less power than the following levels in on-mode in order to bear the Energy Star label:

Table 1 – On-Mode Power Level Requirements for TV Products: HDTV with > 480 Native Vertical Resolution

A = Viewable Screen Area

For example, if we look at a TV that has a 40-inch screen and has a height of 26 inches and a width of 39 inches, it would have a screen area = 1,014 square inches.

Using the equations from above:

0.240 x 1014 + 27 = 270.36 or 270 Watts

Here is a quick table for the most common screen sizes within the TV industry:

Table 2 – Average Tier On-Mode Power Level Requirements for TV Products with Greater Than > 480 Native Vertical Resolution. 

Clearly, some of these requirements might tax some display technologies. In the end, the industry is already moving toward producing more green products. The TV industry needs to continue to push the envelope and buy into the notion that TV products must also conform to meeting more and more stringent energy-consumption requirements.