Consumer Savings Reach $7 Billion Under Set-Top Box Energy Agreement

Consumers saved nearly $2 billion in electricity costs in 2019 alone as a result of the voluntary set-top box energy efficiency agreement among the primary stakeholders in the pay-TV industry and two leading energy efficiency advocates: the Natural Resources Defense Council and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). NCTA—the Internet & Television Association, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)® and CableLabs led the development and implementation of the award-winning agreement, which has received bipartisan endorsement by both the current and prior administrations.  
A new report by independent auditor D+R International found that under the seven years of this agreement, national set-top box annual energy consumption decreased by nearly half (46%), yielding cumulative savings of more than $7 billion in electricity costs and avoiding nearly 39 million metric tons of CO2 emissions. The energy saved during this period is equivalent to the electricity used by all homes in the state of California for more than seven months, and the ongoing annual reduction in electricity demand is nearly equivalent to the power generated by five typical 500 megawatt coal-run power plants.  

“By going above and beyond their voluntary commitments, pay-TV providers nearly doubled the $1 billion annual savings projected when the industry established its successful partnership with NRDC and ACEEE in 2013,” said Neal Goldberg, General Counsel, NCTA – The Internet & Television Association. 

“The video entertainment market has changed dramatically over the past decade as consumers increasingly watch video on connected devices beyond the TV and from internet-delivered sources,” said Doug Johnson, vice president of technology policy, CTA. “The Voluntary Agreement’s flexibility has enabled industry and energy efficiency advocates to stay ahead of these fast-paced changes and secure far more energy savings more quickly than could have resulted from traditional regulation.”

D+R’s report, which is based upon multiple levels of independent verification tests and audits, also found that:   

  • 99.7% of service providers’ set-top box purchases in 2019 met the Agreement’s “Tier 2” energy efficiency levels, exceeding each party’s commitment that 90% of its purchases would meet those levels;  
  • 95% of set-top box purchases in 2019 met even more rigorous “Tier 3” levels a year ahead of their scheduled 2020 effective date;  
  • The average power usage of a new digital video recorder (DVR) has decreased by 50% since 2012;  
  • DVRs have decreased in number as a result of whole-home architectures and cloud DVR offerings; and  
  • Consumers used more than 43 million customer-owned devices such as Smart TVs, smartphones, tablets, personal computers, and streaming devices such as Apple TV, Roku, Google Chromecast and Amazon Fire to access the signatories’ video services via apps in 2019, which reduces demand for pay-TV set-top boxes.  

D+R compiled these findings by reviewing data on every 2019 new set-top box purchase by all of the major pay-TV providers serving 94 percent of the U.S. market (AT&T/DIRECTV, Comcast, Charter, DISH, Verizon, Altice, Cox, and Frontier). Other signatories include major manufacturers (CommScope and Technicolor) and the energy-efficiency advocates (NRDC and ACEEE).  To learn more about the industry’s voluntary agreements and energy efficiency efforts, visit