U.S. consumers saved more than $500m owing to energy-efficient STBs

Thursday, August 6th, 2015
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Independent Audit Finds Consumers Have Saved More Than $500 Million from Energy Efficient Set-Top Boxes

  • New report shows Voluntary Agreement has avoided almost 3 million metric tons of CO2 emissions

WASHINGTON — American consumers have saved more than $500 million in energy bills through two years of the voluntary set-top box energy conservation agreement among the pay-TV industry, consumer electronics manufacturers and energy efficiency advocates, according to a new report issued by an independent auditor, D&R International. The Voluntary Agreement for Ongoing Improvement to the Energy Efficiency of Set-Top Boxes 2014 Annual Report says the improved energy efficiency achieved by set-top boxes in 2013 and 2014 also avoided nearly three million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions under the first two years of the voluntary agreement.

According to the report, a major driver of the energy cost savings is a 33 percent decline in the weighted average of energy consumption of Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) – the most energy-intensive type of set-top box – over just two years. Overall, 95 percent of service providers’ set-top box purchases in 2014 met the ENERGY STAR Version 3.0 standards – a 12 percent increase from 2013, the first year of the Voluntary Agreement – and use approximately 14 percent less energy than set-top boxes previously issued by the service providers. Additionally, 62 percent of service providers’ set-top box purchases last year – a 32 percent increase from the year before – already meet the even more stringent set of Tier 2 energy efficiency levels, which will be the new baseline for the 90 percent procurement commitment in 2017.

“The Voluntary Agreement on set-top box energy efficiency is yielding energy savings for consumers and the nation,” said Jennifer Amann, Buildings Program Director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). “New set-top boxes offer updated designs and new features while reducing energy use and consumer energy bills. By meeting the commitments of the Voluntary Agreement, pay-TV companies are demonstrating that energy efficiency and product innovation go hand in hand.”

Other milestones verified by the second annual report:

  • Accelerated Savings: With $336 million in total U.S. retail savings in 2014 alone, set-top box users have seen their energy cost savings greatly increase since the launch of the Voluntary Agreement. These energy savings are even more impressive when compared to national energy-use projections without the agreement – saving American consumers more than $1 billion in energy bills and avoiding six million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) over two years.
  • Next-Generation Set-Top Boxes: Trials for next-generation power management systems in set-top boxes began in 2014 and will remain underway in 2015. Next-generation power management would allow parts of the device to operate in a reduced power consumption mode while still functioning with cable system architectures and meeting consumer expectations for quick start-up time and other required functions. Each cable operator has met with energy-efficiency advocates to provide qualitative briefings on its current plans and progress achieved to date.
  • Field Verification: An independent energy testing expert, Intertek Testing Services, NA Inc., field-tested a representative group of 94 set-top boxes in 85 consumer homes in 2014. D&R reviewed Intertek’s test results and confirmed the energy usage of service providers’ set-top boxes in the home is consistent and in substantial compliance with the procurement commitments of the Voluntary Agreement.
  • Detailed Audits: D&R randomly selected a service provider each year for a thorough audit of its set-top box procurements, in order to assure the accuracy of the provider’s reports under the Voluntary Agreement. In both cases, the auditor found at least 90 percent of each of the audited service provider’s annual purchases met ENERGY STAR Version 3.0 standards.

“The second Annual Report is further proof that rigorous, voluntary, private sector-driven agreements can provide comprehensive energy and related-cost savings for consumers and the country,” said Doug Johnson, vice president, technology policy, Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®. “This report – an important deliverable of the Voluntary Agreement – offers transparency, public accountability and objective updates on our progress toward greater energy efficiency for pay TV set-top boxes.”

“The significant energy savings that have resulted from this voluntary industry agreement show how strongly committed the cable industry is to finding creative ways to improve the overall consumer experience,” said Neal Goldberg, NCTA General Counsel. “We will continue to work with our vendor community and other stakeholders to explore ways that set-top boxes and other equipment can become even more energy efficient.”

Additional Highlights of the Second Annual Set-Top Box Voluntary Agreement Report

  • “Light sleep” mode has been downloaded to an additional 6.8 million set-top boxes already in homes prior to the implementation of the Voluntary Agreement.
  • An automatic “power down” feature has been included in every set-top box purchased by the satellite providers in 2014.
  • Multi-room DVR, network and cloud offerings by cable, telco and satellite providers have greatly expanded, enabling consumers to record and watch programming throughout their homes.
  • The use of apps to watch pay-TV programming on tablets, smartphones, smart TVs and other devices (without set-top boxes) has exploded in growth.