Despite their significantly higher market penetration in U.S. homes, consumer electronics (CE) amazingly account for a lower percentage of electricity usage per household than three years ago, according to research conducted by the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems on behalf of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). The research attempts to quantify the electricity consumption of CE products, including televisions, game consoles, set-top boxes (cable, satellite, telco and stand-alone), computers and peripherals, computer speakers, monitors, home audio, smart phones, tablets and networking equipment.
The study found that CE devices accounted for just 12 percent of residential electricity consumption in the U.S. in 2013 — a nine percent drop from 2010.
“This comprehensive assessment of CE energy consumption is a significant contribution to the understanding of energy efficiency trends within our industry,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of CEA. “Rapid changes in the energy consumption characteristics of high-tech devices make it essential to develop up-to-date and accurate assessments of energy usage. And it’s clear the energy efficiency improvements for consumer electronics are best driven by innovation, competition, voluntary agreements.”
Within CE’s 12 percent share of total residential energy consumption in 2013, televisions accounted for 30 percent, set-top boxes 18 percent and computers 13 percent, the research reveals. While televisions continue to be the most widely owned CE device in the U.S. — with 97 percent household penetration in 2013 — their unit energy consumption is declining due to innovations in display technologies. The total annual electricity consumption of televisions dropped 23 percent from 2010, as efficiency levels increased and the use of cathode ray tube (analog) televisions declined.
“New-model approaches, such as the recent set top box voluntary agreement, prove that energy efficiency is best achieved when the public and private sectors work together,” said Doug Johnson, vice president of technology policy at CEA. “In the rapidly-changing world of electronics devices and high-tech products, these voluntary and market-driven approaches are the only methods that can keep pace with technology, protect innovation and competition, and still achieve efficiency goals. If older data is used to analyze potential energy policy decisions, such as voluntary or mandatory regulatory programs, it can lead to less effective policy decisions that may not achieve the end goals.”
According to the study, U.S. households were actively using nearly 3.8 billion CE devices in 2013, consuming an estimated 169 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity. A prior study reported that 2.9 billion devices were in use in 2010, and consumed an estimated 193 TWh.
Sound energy policy depends on accurate and current data in order to understand the latest energy and technology trends and ultimately reach the best policy.
“As the alliance pursues the goal of doubling energy productivity in the U.S. by 2030, it’s essential that we understand and account for energy-use trends and efficiency gains across all industry sectors, including electronics,” said Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy. “Accuracy in conducting and sharing these studies [will] provide invaluable insight to both policymakers and the broader energy-efficiency community.”