California Proposes New Energy Standards for TVs

Fresno, CA Nicholas Violin has three TV's, which is just about average for an American home, and like most people, he doesn't know how much energy his sets consume.

"I have no idea how much energy my TV uses at all."

In fact, the California Energy Commission says 10 percent of home energy use is from power-hungry TV's. It wants to impose the nation's first regulations to reduce energy use on all sets under 58 inches.

"California will save about $8.1-billion dollars in the first ten years that these standards are in effect," said Karen Douglas with the California Energy Commission.

That is enough energy to power 860,000 homes. But retailers contend they could lose 20 percent of their sales because manufacturers will be forced to pull some products out of California and consumers would go online to buy sets from out of state retailers.

"This company has been in California for 61 years, employs 150 people that if you take away 20 percent of our business, could we survive, right now, I am not sure," said appliance salesman Steve Caldero.

Regulators claim the industry is "crying wolf" just like manufacturers did in the late 70's when California set energy efficiency standards for refrigerators. National standards eventually followed.

Today refrigerators are bigger and use a quarter of the energy. The same could happen with TV's.

"The federal government will watch California and often later adopt standards that we develop and we pioneer there," said Douglas.

In the meantime, both sides believe consumers should be educated on ways to save energy. In fact, most of today's TV's could meet the proposed standards just by lowering the brightness level.

That's a tip Nicholas Violin could use when he watches his third TV, the one outside by the Jacuzzi.

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