Set-top boxes from Comcast, AT&T and others used a lot less energy in 2018

Comcast Xfinity X1 set top box
The agreement has also led to a decrease in average energy consumption by most major types of set-top boxes and caused the new-unit average power usage for digital video recorders (DVR) to fall by 48% since 2012. (Comcast)

Pay TV providers including AT&T, Charter and Comcast are reducing the amount of energy used by their consumer set-top boxes, resulting in billions saved over the past few years.

Consumers saved approximately $1.6 billion in energy costs in 2018 alone thanks to a voluntary set-top box energy conservation agreement signed in 2013 and renewed in 2018. A new report by independent auditor D+R International found that the agreement has reduced the national set-top box annual energy consumption by 39% over six years, yielding cumulative savings of more than $5 billion in electricity costs and avoiding 28.6 million metric tons of CO2 emissions.

“The voluntary agreement accelerated a nationwide shift to more energy efficient set top boxes, and consumers and the environment are seeing big benefits -- $5 billion in utility bill savings so far and millions of tons of avoided pollution. With the increasing shift toward apps for streaming, the savings will grow even more because many consumers will no longer need a set top box to watch their shows,” said Noah Horowitz, senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, in a statement.

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D+R found that 97.8% of service providers’ set-top box purchases in 2018 met the Agreement’s “Tier 2” levels that became applicable in 2017 and that 78% of the signatories’ 2018 purchases have already met “Tier 3” levels – which are estimated to be 20% more efficient than “Tier 2” – scheduled to take effect in 2020.

The agreement has also led to a decrease in average energy consumption by most major types of set-top boxes and caused the new-unit average power usage for digital video recorders (DVR) to fall by 48% since 2012.

“A forty percent decline in the end-use energy footprint of a category - in only six years - is a remarkable achievement that shows the effectiveness of voluntary agreements to meet energy efficiency goals,” said Doug Johnson, CTA’s vice president of technology policy, in a statement.

Neal Goldberg, NCTA general counsel, said that, “the flexibility of the Voluntary Agreement has enabled the signatories to save even more energy than initially projected while still adapting to changing technology and services.”

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