Nonprofit’s program lets TV viewers tune in to energy savings

By Gordon Oliver, Columbian business editor

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The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance is making it easier for consumers in Washington and three other Northwest states to choose televisions that are kindest to the planet in terms of energy consumption.

The nonprofit alliance’s Energy Forward program recognizes the most efficient televisions on the market, marking them with an orange Energy Forward button in retail outlets. It also has established a website, energyefficientelectronics.org, where consumers can check out the top televisions in various size categories and find local stores to purchase the products. The alliance says retailers representing 80 percent of the Northwest’s TV sales are promoting the Energy Forward televisions in their stores.

The Energy Forward initiative was launched late last year, and the alliance is pushing its message now to alert more consumers to the designation during the holiday gift-giving season. The alliance notes that televisions are the fastest-growing consumer of residential power in the Northwest, using enough energy to power 300,000 homes for a year. That consumption is projected to double by 2030, with larger screen sizes and more televisions per household.

There’s evidence of increasing consumer interest in curbing energy use. At the start of 2011, energy-efficient TVs promoted with the Energy Forward sticker represented 12 percent of televisions sold in the Northwest by participating retailers, the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance says. By the end of this year, the organization expects that 35 to 40 percent of TVs sold in the region will carry the Energy Forward sticker.

As part of its outreach, the alliance has established an Energy Forward Facebook page and is offering Northwest residents an opportunity to win one of five televisions in a caption-writing contest. The “Big Picture Photo Contest” is open through Monday at http://www.facebook.com/energyefficientelectronics.

The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance is a private nonprofit organization funded by Northwest utilities including Clark Public Utilities District ,as well as the Energy Trust of Oregon and the Bonneville Power Administration. It aims to improve energy efficiency and encourage efficient products and technologies in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana.