10 Things to Know About Energy Labels for TVs

And one more: Energy labels for other electronics may be on the way.


Starting in May of 2011, TVs sold in the United States will bear EnergyGuide labels like the ones found on appliances. Yep, we’re talking about those ugly yellow and black labels—though the ones on TVs will be smaller.

The ruling comes from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 was mandated to consider making energy information labels mandatory for TVs and four other consumer electronics products. The Consumer Electronic Association (CEA) has voiced support of the ruling for EnergyGuide labels on TVs.

The FTC will consider doing the same for personal computers, cable or satellite set-top boxes, stand-alone digital video recorder boxes, and personal computer monitors.

At the risk of being wonkish, I delved into the FTC’s ruling and found all kinds of stuff you may want to know about EnergyGuide labels for TVs. Here’s a rundown, because nobody else should be required to read all 60 pages of the FTC’s final ruling.

1. The ruling affects all TVs manufactured after May 10, 2011 and starts at that date for retail stores. Print catalogs and Internet sites that sell TVs directly must display energy information or the label starting July 11, 2011 (see #’s 8 and 9).

2. The labels will have the familiar black type on yellow backgrounds and will not be as large as those found on appliances. They will be either horizontal or vertical rectangles that fit on a TV’s bezel, or a triangle that will appear in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. See samples of the labels.

3. The label will display the TV’s estimated annual energy cost and a visual comparison of how its efficiency compares to similarly sized models, as well as yearly estimated annual electricity usage. The estimated annual cost is based on 11 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) and 5 hours daily use (along with 19 hours per day in standby mode). The estimated yearly electricity use will be displayed in kWh.

4. If the TV is rated as an efficient Energy Star model, the Energy Star logo may be displayed. Labels will also display the manufacturer’s name and model number.

5. The label’s annual energy calculations do not have to include the energy consumed by integrated functions such as DVD players, nor do they require a disclosure that the integrated functions’ energy use is not included. According to the FTC’s final ruling, this information is not likely to assist consumers “because the functions currently consume little additional electricity.” Should integrated functions in the future consume more energy, the FTC may revisit this issue.

6. The labels will compare televisions of similar screen sizes in 4-to-5-inch increments. This places only one or two commonly sold screen sizes in each category. “Because consumers tend to shop by screen sizes, categories allowing them to easily compare energy costs for the same screen sizes should help them choose among the models that interest them,” the ruling states. (See the FTC’s ruling, page 51, for cost ranges.)

7. Testing of TVs will follow the test procedure used for qualifying Energy Star TVs. Manufacturers don’t have to test each basic model annually; they must retest only if the product design changes in such a way as to affect energy consumption.

8. Internet sellers must display the full EnergyGuide label. This can be done via a link, but any such hyperlink must be in the form of a distinctive icon with the EnergyGuide logo in black and yellow. The label or icon must appear clearly and conspicuously and in close proximity to the product price.

9. Direct-sale print catalogs have the option of stating the annual energy cost and not including the comparison scale or the full label.

10. Labels on boxes are not required. However, manufacturers may choose to label the boxes of small televisions (such as those with screens up to 9 inches), rather than the televisions themselves.


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