It's official – California wants all TV's sold in the state to be about twice as energy efficient by 2013 as they are today.

That's from the California Energy Commission, which on Friday made official its long-awaited proposals for boosting TV energy efficiency. One big change from its previously proposed rules, however – it only tackles TVs with screens of 1,400 square inches (58 inches) or less. Bigger ones will be tackled later, said Suzanne Garfield-Jones, CEC spokeswoman.

Under the rules CEC has proposed, TVs with the smaller screens would have to be roughly one-third more energy efficient by 2011, and 49-percent more efficient by 2013. The rules would apply to new TVs sold in the state, not existing models (see California Wants to Cut TV Power by 49% in Four Years).

That might sound pretty harsh, but in fact, the TV industry has been pushing down the energy consumption of new models under their own power. (For some examples, see Venture Power in Japan: Green Electronics, Samsung's Low-Power TV, Mobile Phone Displays and Competition Shifts to Energy-Saving LCD TVs).

In fact, about 850 existing 2009 models of TVs already meet that 2011 standard, or about 87 percent of today's models, Art Rosenfeld, CEC commissioner, told the Los Angeles Times in January.

As for the more stringent 2013 standards, about 231 existing models now meet them, Garfield-Jones said.

Still, the Consumer Electronics Association trade group doesn't like the proposed standards, saying they could lead to a sharp downturn of TV sales in the state, costing the state $50 million in tax revenues and the loss of about 46,000 jobs, according to an economic study it commissioned.

But the Natural Resources Defense Council called Friday's announcement a win for the environment and consumers' pocketbooks. The power use reductions the standards will enable should save the average California family about $200 over the lifetime of their new TV, said Noah Horowitz, NRDC senior scientist, in a prepared statement.

There's no doubt that TVs make up a significant chunk of the state's power bills. About 10 percent of all household electricity use is tied to TVs, DVD players, cable boxes and other ancillary equipment, the CEC estimates. There are about 35 million TVs in the state at a minimum, and about 4 million are bought every year, Garfield-Jones said.

Putting the new efficiency rules in place could save the state about 6,500 gigawatt-hours of power use over the next 10 years, out of the state's current annual power consumption of about 300,000 gigawatt-hours, she said.

That translates to about $8.7 billion in savings to customers' power bills and power plants that won't need to be built, she said.

The CEC has opened the proposal to a 45-day public comment period, and will hold an Oct. 13 workshop on the matter, Garfield-Jones said. Stay tuned for more proposed fine-tuning of the standard at that time.

Image via John Donges / Creative Commons