Move over Hummer, there's a new energy-hogging villain in town—flat-screen TVs. California yesterday became the first state to mandate better energy efficiency for televisions, reports the San Jose Mercury News. All sets sold there must reduce consumption 30% by 2011 and 50% by 2013. The industry is outraged, but advocates point out that televisions and their assorted gadgets now make up 10% of the average electricity bill, a huge jump from the good old days of cathode ray tubes.
"Our concern was that with 35 million televisions in California, and 4 million new ones sold every year—the majority of which are flat-screens—electricity use is increasing," said a spokeswoman for the California Energy Commission. The standards should be finalized in November and are expected to make a big enough dent that the state would have to build one less major power plant.