The cable industry operates under two energy efficiency agreements:

  • The Set-Top Box (STB) Voluntary Agreement (known as the Voluntary Agreement) was established in December 2012, expanded in December 2013 and renewed in March 2018. It covers set-top boxes, including those used by cable, which service more than 90 percent of the U.S. pay-TV market.

August 2018 (annual audit) found: 

  • Consumers have saved $3.5 billion over the life of the Agreement ($1.4 billion in 2017 alone) and avoided more than 20 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. 
    • National set-top box annual energy consumption by 34 percent since 2012, nearly enough to eliminate the annual generation produced by four typical 500-megawatt coal-run power plants.
  • The Small Network Equipment (SNE) Voluntary Agreement was established in June 2015 and extended in July 2018 for four more years. It covers Internet modems, routers and other equipment that deliver broadband service to more than 85 percent of the residential broadband market.
    • An audit prior to the renewal found that the agreement has already improved the efficiency of home internet devices such as modems and routers by 20 percent.
    • The extension of the voluntary agreement raises the bar, requiring signatories to meet new, more rigorous energy efficiency levels by 2020 that are on average 11 percent lower than the agreement’s current levels.

While the number of consumer tech products in our homes is increasing, their share of our total energy use is steadily shrinking. U.S. households’ tech devices consume 25 percent less energy than they did in 2010. 

  • In 2017, there were nearly 3.4 billion consumer tech devices across the country, consuming an estimated 143 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity annually – compared to 2010, when 2.9 billion devices (21 percent fewer than today) in U.S. households used 193 TWh of electricity (35 percent more than today).

Televisions are among consumer technology’s major energy efficiency success stories. Since at least 2006, TVs have accounted for the majority of consumer technology’s overall energy use in U.S. homes. However, innovations in designs and displays have decreased TVs’ annual in-home energy consumption dramatically, declining 30 percent from 2013 to 2017 – the average cost to power a TV in the U.S. is now less than five cents a day.

Investments in lightweight materials and energy efficient technologies, as well as the convergence of multi-function devices and continuous innovation, have helped the industry reduce its impact on the environment.

The cable industry launched its Energy 2020 program in 2014 with the goal to reduce the energy consumption of the cable operators’ networks, vehicle fleets and administration by 20 percent by the year 2020.