Facing the prospect of regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency, cable TV operators and appliance manufacturers have announced a voluntary program to improve the energy efficiency of the set-top boxes that bring programming into your home. Some environmental advocates say the changes don’t go nearly far enough.
I’m skeptical, too, because the market dynamics in the cable industry are totally backwards, especially when it comes to set-top boxes. You’d think the end user would be the consumer in that equation, but they’re not. It’s the cable companies. They buy the boxes and force people to rent them. And they give the end users no control over how much power the devices consume.
This means end users are subsidizing cable companies with about $2 billion in electricity annually, all so cable companies can push advertising to the boxes.