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% of the U.S. pay-TV market.

The 2019 annual report on the Voluntary Agreement (released in August 2020) found: 

  • National set-top box annual energy consumption has declined by 46% from 2012-2019 – nearly equivalent to the power generated by five typical 500 megawatt coal-run power plants in a year.
  • In 2019 alone, consumers saved more than $1.9 billion on their utility bills and nearly 10.4 million metric tons of CO2 emissions from power plants were avoided. The $1.9 billion in annual consumer energy savings is nearly double the $1 billion annual savings goal set in 2013.
  • Cumulative energy consumption from 2012-2019 has saved consumers approximately $7.1 billion and avoiding nearly 39 million metric tons of CO2 emissions. The energy saved during this seven-year period is enough to power all homes in the entire state of California with electricity for more than seven months.
  • 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. The service provider signatories served almost 89.2 million residential U.S. internet subscribers at the end of 2019, accounting for nearly 89% of the market. 

The SNE 2019 Annual Report (released in August 2020) found: 

  • 99.8% of small network equipment purchased or sold by the agreement participants met prescribed energy-efficiency levels (the goal was 90%).
  • Beginning in 2020, the participants committed that at least 90% of new small network equipment would meet more rigorous Tier 2 energy-efficiency levels. This commitment was achieved early, with 98.9% of new devices meeting Tier 2 in 2019. 
  • Broadband modem energy use has dropped 60% since 2015.

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% less energy than they did in 2010. 

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% from 2013 to 2017 – the average cost to power a TV in the U.S. is now less than five cents a day.

Televisions and peripheral equipment such as cable boxes, digital video recorders (DVRs), and video game consoles account for about 6% of all electricity consumption in U.S. homes.

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.