Independent audit shows total savings of $1.2 billion and 6.5 million metric tons of CO2 emissions since award-winning Voluntary Agreement began

Washington, DC, - Consumers saved approximately $646 million in energy costs in 2015 as a result of the award-winning voluntary set-top box energy conservation agreement among pay-TV providers, consumer technology manufacturers and energy efficiency advocates. A new report by independent auditor D+R International found that more than 3.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions were prevented in 2015 through a 15.94 percent reduction in national energy consumption from set-top boxes, even as their functionality increased.

Over the past three years of the Voluntary Agreement, the independent auditor found that consumers have saved nearly $1.2 billion in energy costs and avoided 6.5 million metric tons of CO2 emissions. The energy saved over three years is the equivalent of the energy used by all of the homes in both Washington, DC, and San Francisco combined, for one year. In addition, energy savings have increased over the past three years, doubling in 2014 and then increasing by another 82 percent in 2015. The Voluntary Agreement was recently named “Project of the Year” by Environmental Leader, a leading daily trade publication covering energy, environmental and sustainability news.

"The pay TV industry and its suppliers are beginning to make a real dent in the high energy use of cable, satellite and telephone set-top boxes. Thanks to improved efficiency, we've seen more than $1 billion in consumer savings. While there's still much more to do, that's real progress," said Noah Horowitz, director of the Center for Energy Efficiency Standards at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "In fact, new DVRs, the main set-top box in most homes, now use 36 percent less energy annually than in 2012. And due to the magic of the cloud and Internet-connected TVs, some televisions are receiving pay TV service via an 'app' that eliminates the need for a set-top box altogether."

To provide more transparency and information to consumers, regulators and other stakeholders about the progress of the Voluntary Agreement (and a similar agreement related to home Internet equipment), the participants in the Voluntary Agreement have launched a new website, www.energy-efficiency.us. The website includes links to individual pay TV and Internet provider websites so consumers can learn more about the equipment that each company offers.

The Voluntary Agreement was signed in 2012 with the goal of increasing the energy efficiency of set-top boxes while continuing to innovate and introduce new features. In 2013, leading energy efficiency advocates joined with the pay television industry in an expanded version of the Voluntary Agreement. Signatories now include all of the major multichannel video service providers representing more than 92 percent of the U.S. multichannel video market (AT&T/DIRECTV, Comcast, Charter/Time Warner Cable/Bright House Networks, DISH, Verizon, Cox, Cablevision, and CenturyLink), major manufacturers (ARRIS/Pace, Technicolor, EchoStar Technologies) and energy-efficiency advocates (Natural Resources Defense Council, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), and the Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP). 

Additional progress verified in the 2015 annual report includes:

  • 99.5 percent of New Set-Top Boxes Meet ENERGY STAR Efficiency Standards. Under the Voluntary Agreement, the service provider signatories committed that 90 percent of the set-top boxes they purchased after December 31, 2013, would meet the energy efficiency standards of ENERGY STAR Version 3.0. In 2015, 99.5 percent of set-top boxes purchased met these standards.
  • Whole-Home Systems. Multi-room DVR, network and cloud offerings by cable, telco and satellite providers have continued to expand. In the past three years, the signatories have purchased more than 27 million “thin clients,” each of which can deliver DVR functionality to a TV without requiring a more energy-intensive DVR for each TV. A consumer that uses two thin clients in place of two additional DVRs saves approximately $30 per year in electricity.   
  • Reduced Power Modes. Most new set-top boxes now include energy-saving features that enable the devices to use less energy when not in use, such as light sleep and automatic power down. One large provider has now launched next-generation power management features that enable parts of a set-top box to go into a deep sleep reduced-power consumption mode when not in use, and other providers are developing and trialing next-generation power savings plans.
  • Reducing the Number of Set-Top Boxes. The use of apps to watch pay TV programming on tablets, smartphones, smart TVs and other devices (without set-top boxes) has skyrocketed in growth.