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California Seeks to Curb Appetite of Power-Hungry TVs

Estimating that televisions and their electronic accessories account for 10 percent of the electricity used in an average household, California’s energy wardens want to put new flat-panel models on a diet.

A Panasonic representative showing a prototype of an ultrathin plasma TV at a Las Vegas trade show in January.

The state’s Energy Commission has proposed new efficiency standards that would require televisions sold in California to use 50 percent less energy by 2013. The proposed rules, which the commission is expected to act on this summer, would affect televisions manufactured from January 2011 onward.

The Consumer Electronics Association is resisting the new standards, arguing that the industry could achieve the energy savings without the rules.

For starters, said Douglas Johnson, senior director of technology policy for the industry group, consumers could adjust brightness and contrast settings, left at top levels by factories, and reduce the energy consumed by as much as 25 percent. “There are much more savings to be had by what we’re suggesting as alternatives,” Mr. Johnson said.

But Adam Gottlieb, a spokesman for the California Energy Commission, emphasized that the new standards would not constitute a ban. “You’re still able to buy the 60-inch that you want,” Mr. Gottlieb said, “and it’s not affecting what’s in your house.” He added that the proposed efficiency standards were “technically feasible and cost-effective.”

Four million TV sets are sold in the state annually. Plasma displays like Panasonic’s, which can use up to 30 percent more energy per square inch than liquid crystal displays, would be hit hardest by the standard. Plasma’s market share has dwindled in any case to 10 percent, compared with 77 percent for LCD sets, according to industry figures.

Meanwhile, households that have held on to their cathode-ray-tube sets can rest easy knowing that those models are the most energy-efficient TVs around.

Next Article in Science (12 of 27) » A version of this article appeared in print on April 15, 2009, on page A12 of the New York edition. Click here to enjoy the convenience of home delivery of The Times for less than $1 a day.




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