The California Energy Commission (CEC) yesterday approved the nation's first energy efficiency standards for televisions. Unlike voluntary programs, such as the Environmental Protection Agency's EnergyStar program, the rules mandate certain levels of efficiency. TVs sold in California, for example, must meet efficiency standards designed to consume 33 percent less electricity by 2011 and 49 percent less electricity by 2013. The standards affect only those TVs with a screen size 58 inches or smaller, and exempt sets already in homes or in store inventories. For example, a 42-inch screen would consume 183 watts or less by 2011 and 115 watts or less by 2013. More than 1,000 TV models on the market today already meet the 2011 standards and cost no more than less-efficient sets, according to a CEC release.

The Consumer Electronic Association says in a statement that the standards are unnecessary, because "Energy consumption by today's digital television models approximates the energy required for two light bulbs." and that the efficiency of digital TVs has improved more than 41 percent in less than two years.