City Desk

California Bans Plasma TVs, Could It Happen to Us?

At the DC Energy Expo a couple of weekends ago, my jaw dropped when I learned just how much energy it takes to run a plasma television set: A whopping three times as much electricity as a regular TV.  Even when they aren't running, plasma TVs suck an enormous amount of "vampire energy" – the power an appliance draws when turned off but still plugged into the wall. One of these beauties can set you back an estimated 1,452 kilowatts a year, or nearly $160, just by leaving the thing plugged in when your not using it, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

So, it's little wonder that the California Energy Commission – which enjoys being the country's environmental advanced guard – voted yesterday to ban plasma TV sales. The ban came in the form of new regulations requiring new televisions sold in the state to consume 33 percent less electricity by 2011 and 49 percent less electricity by 2013.

California's crusading for tougher vehicle emission rules is often credited with raising the bar for a new national auto emissions standard. Will the same be true for TVs? Or will the ban just ruin some people's enjoyment of big-screen rituals such as Super Bowl Sunday?

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  • Dan

    Your facts are a little off. First, California didn't ban plasma TVs. The new regulations require that TVs be 33% more efficient than current energy star standards by 2011. What you don't mention is that most of the TVs on the market TODAY exceed these standards. Also, these new rules don't apply to TVs larger than 58" so the "big screen rituals" won't be affected if the screen is big enough.

  • peter in ireland

    Christine and Dan,
    Are you guys in the 'Free America' or are you wannabees to join our
    Bureaucratic ban-loving EU? :-)

    Either way,
    Governor Schwarzenegger is shooting himself in the foot!

    1. Taxation, while still wrong, is better than bans for all concerned.
    TV set taxation based on energy efficiency - unlike bans - gives
    Governor Schwarzenegger's impoverished California Government income on
    the reduced sales, while consumers keep choice.
    This also applies generally,
    to CARS (with emission tax or gas tax), BUILDINGS, DISHWASHERS, LIGHT BULBS etc,
    where politicians instead keep trying to define what people can or can't use.
    Politicians can use the tax money raised to fund home insulation
    schemes, renewable projects etc that lower energy use and emissions
    more than remaining product use raises them.
    Energy efficient products can have any sales taxes lowered, making
    them cheaper than today.
    People are not just hit by taxes, they don't have to buy the higher
    taxed products - and at least they CAN still buy them.

    2. Product regulation, bans or taxation, are however unwarranted:
    Where there is a problem - deal with the problem!

    Energy: there is no energy shortage
    (given renewable/nuclear development possibilities, with set emission limits)
    and consumers - not politicians - pay for energy and how they wish to use it.

    It might sound great to
    "Let everyone save money by only allowing energy efficient products"
    Inefficient products that use more energy can have performance,
    appearance and construction advantages
    Examples (using cars, buildings, dishwashers, TV sets, light bulbs etc):
    For example, big plasma TV screens have image contrast and other
    advantages along with their large image sizes.

    Products using more energy usually cost less, or they'd be more energy
    efficient already.
    Depending on how much they are used, there might therefore not be any
    running cost savings either.

    Other factors contribute to a lack of savings:

    If households use less energy,
    then utility companies make less money,
    and will just raise electricity prices to cover their costs.
    So people don't save as much money as they thought.

    energy efficiency in effect means cheaper energy,
    so people just leave TV sets etc on more, knowing that energy bills are lower,
    as also shown by Scottish and Cambridge research

    Either way, supposed energy - or money - savings aren't there.

    Why energy efficiency regulations are wrong,
    whether you are for or against energy and emission conservation
    Politicians don't object to energy efficiency as it sounds too good to
    be true. It is.
    --The Consumer Side
    Product Performance -- Construction and Appearance
    Price Increase -- Lack of Actual Savings: Money, Energy or Emissions.
    Choice and Quality affected
    -- The Manufacturer Side
    Meeting Consumer Demand -- Green Technology -- Green Marketing
    --The Energy Side
    Energy Supply -- Energy Security -- Cars and Oil Dependence
    --The Emission Side
    Buildings -- Industry -- Power Stations -- Light Bulbs

  • jim

    Fact...42" plasma HDTV ranges from 155w-195w as listed on the Energy Star web site, this is almost half of what a 35/36" old convential tube uses. 50" plasma range from 195-245w on the same ES web site. This energy use ranges from $41-$65 per year at 11c/kwh, less than $5/mo. Apparantely there is more misinformation from DC being given to unsuspecting consumers!

  • Eag

    Another reason to stick with LCDs.

  • Fred

    There was a decent article in the Atlantic recently that dealt with Calif's unique approach to energy consumption. They are discouraging the notion of using as much as possible, tying profitability to consumption. I recommend the article. California still does so much right.

  • adam

    how do LCDs compare?

  • Fernando Mccuin

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  • Greg M.

    ... If you do bookmark this site, take the information with a very large grain of salt, if this particular blog post is any indication. It's BADLY MISINFORMED, and jaw-droppingly so. Comments #1 & #3 set the facts straight.

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