The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) highlighted the electronic industry's achievements in energy efficiency during a public workshop held recently by the California Energy Commission (CEC) to consider regulation of additional consumer products. A recent staff draft report on energy efficiency and buildings indicates the CEC is moving forward with new regulations for a variety of product categories.
The CEA put out a statement saying the commission “appears to be following a familiar path toward creating unnecessary and unjustified regulatory requirements for consumer products while failing to account for the energy savings of existing policies and programs.” The group asked the CEC to focus on “recognizing and supporting existing, successful approaches to advancing energy efficiency that protect innovation, competition, and consumer choice.”
The group is asking the CEC to take energy efficiency gains into account before proposing new regulation.
“It’s important for both industry and policymakers to recognize what has been accomplished in energy efficiency,” Douglas Johnson, vice president of technology policy for the CEA, told Design News. “In developing new policies, especially in California, policymakers have not recognized the efficiency improvements, so they continue to move to new policy.”
The CEA noted that the CEC's regulation for televisions took effect this year, “despite the fact that significant energy savings in televisions had already been achieved as a result of industry innovation, competition, and the Energy Star program at the national level, which the CEC does not recognize.” Energy Star is a program backed by the Environmental Protection Agency and US Department of Energy. Companies that meet strict environmental standards are allowed to use Energy Star labels on their products. Earning the right to use the label has become a competitive factor in the building and consumer product industries.
Johnson said advances in design and science have produced highly efficient consumer electronics, but the Energy Star program has also contributed.
“The advances in efficiency come from both physics and the Energy Star program,” he said. “Our members feel an incentive to improve energy efficiency as things become smaller and closer together within a box. They also respond to the Energy Star program, which is prompted by marketing concerns.”
In its statement, the CEA said its research has found that with televisions, “innovation, competition, and Energy Star have reduced the amount of power needed per unit of screen size 63 percent for LCD TVs from 2003 to 2010 and 41 percent for plasma TVs from 2008 to 2010.” The average TV sold in 2010 consumes less energy than a 100-watt incandescent light bulb and uses less power than is needed to light a typical living room, the group said.
Consumers have replaced older TVs with newer, more efficient ones, according to the CEA, but the CEC has “made many errors, including wrongly assuming that more TVs being purchased meant more energy consumption.”
The CEA urged the CEC and other policymakers to recognize, account for, and support policies and programs that are already in place and working to deliver more efficient electronics to consumers.