Pay TV industry agrees to lower set-top energy use by another 20%


After cutting set-top energy use by 20% since 2012, the pay TV industry has re-upped its power-saving agreement with several government agencies and pledged to cut juice consumption by another 20%.

The deal was hammered out by the NCTA – The Internet and Television Association (which represents Comcast, Charter and all the other major cable TV operators) and the Consumer Electronics Association (which represents the set-top making vendors), which negotiated with the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

“National set-top box energy use will be almost 40% lower than in 2012, saving four large, 500-megawatt, coal-burning power plants’ worth of electricity every year,” wrote Noah Horowitz, NRDC senior scientist, in an org blog post. “That’s equal to the amount of electricity consumed each year by all the households in Chicago. Because of the agreement, annual U.S. consumer savings will grow to $1.6 billion in energy costs by 2025.”

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"The Voluntary Agreement is already moving toward its third generation of improved energy standards and has saved consumers billions of dollars without slowing the rollout of new services such as 4K Ultra High-Definition set-top boxes," added Neal Goldberg, NCTA general counsel, in a statement. "The extension of the Voluntary Agreement demonstrates our industry's commitment to approaches that assure our customers benefit from energy efficiency measures while maintaining our ability to develop new services and equipment which they demand.”

Back in 2012, as Horowitz noted, with most set-tops containing large hard disk drives and operating in always-on mode, U.S. households were paying more than $4 billion a year on electricity to operate their set-tops, producing 24 million tons of pollution. 

However, the new agreement comes as many operators have moved DVR functionality to the cloud, thus rendering their set-tops to be far less power-hungry client devices. Meanwhile, the proliferation of virtual MVPDs and other IP-based video services has led many consumers to use small app-based devices.