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Energy stars for TVs

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Energy

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SYDNEY: Soon the stars you see on the small screen won't all be celebrities.

Panasonic has introduced energy-star labels for televisions under a labelling scheme soon to be mandatory under new government regulations. Its Viera LCD television has a rating of three stars.

An Australian home has an average of 2.4 televisions, each switched on for 5.5 to 8 hours per day, accounting for nearly 8 per cent of household power consumption.

Peter Garret, Minister for Environment Heritage and the Arts, tannounced regulations on TV energy usage earlier this year. Panasonic is the first to release a product labelled under the scheme in Australia.

The scheme commenced with voluntary labelling to fast-track consumer awareness; mandatory labelling starts in April 2009. In October next year, the scheme will ban the sale of any TV with an energy rating below one star.

"It is important for the whole industry to get behind this scheme and help Australians make more informed decisions about the televisions they buy," said Panasonic Australia's Managing Director, Steve Rust.The rating is calculated from based on screen size and energy consumption when the TV is switched on, and when it's on stand-by mode.

Panasonic intends to introduce ratings on all its new LCD and plasma TVs. LG claims to have models that meet the star rating requirements; however, they have not yet released a television carrying the labels.

Energy star labels were mandated in Australia for most household appliances in 1992, but televisions weren't included in the scheme because early televisions' energy consumption was dependant only on screen size.

With current television models verging on cinema size, , they've become the second most power-hungry appliance in the home fridges.

"It's overdue that televisions were brought into the fold of energy labelling and performance standards - this was the obvious next step," said Paul Myors, energy efficiency expert at EnergyAustralia.

He said it's a positive for both industry and consumer because it provides an incentive for manufacturers to improve their designs and it informs consumers whwho have had no easy way to know how efficient a television was.

Energy-star-rated televisions use about 30 per cent less energy than equivalent, non-rated TVs, with particularly large power savings in stand-by modes.

Next year the energy star ratings will go up to 10 stars, hopefully encouraging manufacturers to make even more efficient products.