We all know about those “energy vampires” that lurk within the home: always-on devices that silently suck up energy out of the grid (and our pocketbooks) even when they’re not being actively used. A prime juice-sucker is the operator-managed set-top box (STB) that sits atop televisions in the vast majority of homes in the United States.
Two ecosystem players, STB-maker EchoStar Technologies and satellite leader DISH Network, have now joined the fight to put the devices on a diet.
Both have joined the Set-Top Box (News - Alert) Energy Conservation Agreement, a coalition that promotes the design, manufacture and sale of new energy-efficient STBs, including DVRs—with the goal of taking the equivalent of four power plants offline next year. The coalition, made up of pay-TV players that serve more than 90 million U.S. TV households, will meet regularly to review and update energy efficiency goals as technology advances allow additional energy savings.
EchoStar is DISH’s exclusive STB provider, including for the Hopper DVR box. "EchoStar is a current ENERGY STAR (News - Alert) partner, and has been focused on energy efficiency for some time,” said Mark Jackson, president of EchoStar. “The Hopper Whole-Home DVR and Joey thin-client devices we produce for DISH offer subscribers up to a 50 percent reduction in power consumption over previously available industry configurations.”
The video service provider members of the coalition are pledging that 90 percent of the set-top boxes purchased by the end of 2013 will meet ENERGY STAR Set-Top Box Program V3 efficiency levels. That’s in contrast to DISH's previous ENERGY STAR commitment, which required 50 percent of purchases to meet the highest energy efficiency rating.
Nationwide, the initial commitments of the Set-Top Box Energy Conservation Agreement are projected to save up to $1.5 billion (and about 12.5 TWh) per year of residential electricity use as the agreement is fully realized. That will mean that four fewer power plants will be required, eliminating an estimated 16 million metric tons per year of carbon dioxide emissions.
The voluntary agreement among the companies will take effect January 1, 2013.
"The advanced features our subscribers love, such as whole-home HD DVR, Blockbuster @Home, Primetime Anytime and AutoHop are currently delivered using one of the industry's most energy efficient solutions, the Hopper and Joey," said Vivek Khemka, vice president of product management at DISH. "We look forward to continuing our ENERGY STAR Service Provider Program partnership as well as supporting the industry's voluntary initiative."Tara Seals has over thirteen years of experience as a journalist. Her areas of expertise cover the waterfront of the service provider segment, especially mobile networks, devices and applications; and video infrastructure, content and broadcast models.