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How will California's new TV energy standards affect you?

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Rich Pedroncelli/AP Photo

(Read caption) Doug Pongrazc checks out a large screen television while shopping at a Best Buy store in Elk Grove, Calif. The state has imposed a first-in-the nation mandate on TV energy use, intended to lower electricity demand.

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On Wednesday, the California Energy Commission approved new energy-efficiency standards to regulate how much electricity television sets sold in the state can consume.

When do the standards take effect? Jan. 1, 2011, with more stringent rules kicking in two years later.

Do they apply to the TV sets I currently own?  No. They also don't apply to any television set you buy next year. And you can keep using your TVs as long as they last.

What television sets will be regulated?  All that measure 58 inches (1,400 square inches) or smaller.

How will future TVs be affected? By 2011, television sets sold in California stories must use a third less power than they do now. That goes up to a 49 percent power savings by 2013.

Why did the commission impose regulations on TV sets? Because flat-screen TVs use a great deal of energy. The LA Times explains:

Since the sale of flat-panel televisions began to rocket at the beginning of the decade, TV-related power usage more than tripled to 10 billion kilowatt-hours per year, accounting for nearly 10 percent of residential electricity consumption, said Commissioner Arthur Rosenfeld, a nuclear physicist and University of California, Berkeley professor.

The commission's website adds:

In California, televisions (along with DVRs, DVD players, and cable boxes) now consume 10 percent of a home's electricity. Increasing sales of flat screen televisions, larger screen sizes, the growing number of TVs per household, and increased daily use of televisions all contribute to greater electricity consumption.

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