EPA moves to plug major Energy Star leak

Last updated Apr 28, 2009 — 424 views

DeviceGuru recently reported on a reader’s discovery that his “Energy Star compliant” Sony HDTV was consuming 200 times its advertised standby power. Now, he’s back with good news: the Environmental Protection Agency has decided to plug this gaping energy-draining hole via a new release of its Energy Star TV specification.

Guest contributor Martin Hellman writes…

Thanks to help from DeviceGuru and Slashdot in getting the word out about the huge loophole I found in the Energy Star TV Specification, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a new spec (PDF download) that will plug the energy hole.

The loophole involved the so-called Download Acquisition Mode (“DAM,” when the TV is downloading information such as a program guide. My Sony TV (model KDL37XBR6) met the letter of the EPA’s Energy Star mode by consuming less than 0.1 Watt in standby mode, but DAM was not counted as part of standby mode and was consuming 200 times the standby power 75 percent of the time. The new spec requires that “a product shall spend no more than two hours of time in DAM in any continuous twenty-four hour period.”

If my TV had met this new spec, its average power consumption when not being viewed would have been under 2 Watts, instead of the 15 Watts I measured. There are about 250 million TVs in the U.S., and many times that worldwide. If eventually 100 million TVs benefit from this new spec, that’s 1.3 gigawatts, which (assuming the average U.S. home consumes around 24 kWh per day) is roughly equivalent to the TOTAL electric power consumed by a million American homes. Very impressive!

[About Martin Hellman — Martin Hellman is renowned for his invention, with Whitfield Diffie and Ralph Merkle, of public key cryptography. In addition to many other uses, this technology forms the basis for secure transactions on the Internet. Hellman’s latest project, Defusing the Nuclear Threat, has been endorsed by a number of prominent individuals including two Nobel Laureates.]

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