Transforming the Televisions Market

In October, leading television manufacturers, the Consumer Technology Association, and environmental advocacy groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) announced a commitment to work together to create a more accurate test method for measuring TV energy use. The announcement marked a major milestone in a three-year effort to secure an accurate method for one of the nation’s most ubiquitous consumer products – and the beginning of a new chapter in television efficiency.

NEEA’s foray into the televisions market began more than a decade ago. From 2009-2014, its Televisions program transformed the market away from energy-hogging plasma screens to more efficient LCD displays. That program ended in 2014, having successfully transformed the market for flat-screen high-definition televisions and saving the region enough energy to power more than 30,000 Northwest homes each year[1].

Tv testing Pacific Crest Labs
Image by: Pacific Crest Labs

During the intervening years, NEEA staff focused on new Ultra High Definition (UHD) televisions, offering incentives through the Retail Products Portfolio program. However, the efficiency gains started to erode as screen sizes continued to grow, and a wide range of energy-hogging features and configurations emerged in newer models. In 2016, NEEA staff and their partners began to wonder if the Department of Energy’s test method was able to accurately assess energy use by the latest models of UHD and High Dynamic Range (HDR) televisions.

In fact, investigative lab testing revealed that the existing test method had significant shortcomings when it came to modern televisions. Without an accurate test method, all bets were off on real-world performance and consumers were in the dark. NEEA quickly decided to pause program incentives for televisions and focus on testing.

To fix the test method, the alliance leaned on its product testing expertise and deep industry relationships. NEEA staff and their partners started an international group of advocates, including NRDC, Pacific Crest Labs, Energy Solutions, and CLASP, participated in national and international forums, and funded video test-clip development. A breakthrough in measurement techniques enabled a shift in focus from screen brightness to the light efficiency that a TV delivers. The result is a completely revised TV energy performance metric and a streamlined test method for evaluating TVs.

October’s announcement, which signals broad support from the TV industry for this new test method and future TV energy efficiency improvements, cited NEEA’s revised TV energy performance metric as the target. The revised TV energy performance metric was also the catalyst for ENERGY STAR to begin the Version 9 specification revision process, which also heavily references the region’s work to develop a revised test method.

Thanks to the region’s efforts, the next generation of televisions are being developed with energy efficiency in mind. As newer and more advanced models come to market, NEEA and its partners are keeping pace with the rapidly evolving market and continuing to raise the bar for energy efficiency.

[1] NEEA Success Story: Energy Efficient Televisions