Broadband Cable Association of Pennsylvania

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Americans watch television with 225 million set-top boxes. They run day and night, when the TV is on or off. The electric bill runs into the billions of dollars for consumers. Critics also say they’re bad for the environment, contributing millions of tons of carbon emissions from power plants. On Thursday, Comcast Corp. and others in the pay-TV industry renewed a voluntary agreement with energy advocates to make set-top boxes more efficient, a pact initially spurred by the threat of new regulations or laws during the Obama administration. And experts reiterated that the easiest way to save money is to ensure that you have only one set-top box with a DVR in your house; many people have multiple boxes. Pay-TV customers are saving about $1 billion a year in lower electric bills from efficiency improvements to set-top boxes so far, Noah Horowitz, a director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said Thursday. The deal will set standards that must be met on new set-top boxes over the next four years. By 2020, new set-top boxes will be 40 percent more energy efficient than those in 2012, or before the first agreement, he said. But Horowitz added that “we remain disappointed by how much power these boxes use when no one is watching TV or recording a show.”

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