Set-top Boxes

The Product: 

Set-top boxes, otherwise known as cable, satellite or DVR boxes, are devices whose principle functions are to receive television signals and deliver them to another consumer device. Most set-top boxes are owned and placed into service by pay-TV service providers such as cable, satellite or telephone companies as part of their agreement with consumers.

The Standard:

There are currently no national standards for these products. On June 15, 2011, DOE published a proposed determination of coverage signaling their intent to begin a rulemaking. However, on December 23, 2013, DOE, pay-TV industry, and energy efficiency groups announced a set-top box energy conservation agreement. The agreement covers all types of set-top boxes from pay-TV providers including cable, satellite and telephone companies. The non-regulatory standards will improve set-top box efficiency by 10-45 percent (depending on the box type) by 2017, and are expected to save more than $1 billion on consumer energy bills annually. The agreement also requires the pay-TV industry to publicly report model-specific set-top box energy use and requires an annual audit of service providers by an independent auditor to ensure boxes are performing at the efficiency levels specified in the agreement. Following the announcement, DOE published a notice withdrawing both the proposed rulemaking for a set-top box test procedure and the proposed coverage determination for set-top boxes.

The California Energy Commission, which identified set-top boxes as a candidate for state appliance standards in its 2012 docket, has indicated that they will "monitor future energy savings before deciding whether there's a need for mandatory standards." (LA Times, December 30, 2013)

Key Facts: 

The groups estimate that 90 million U.S. homes have pay-TV set-top boxes.

Projected Savings

Set-Top Boxes Potential Standards
Savings through what year?:
Energy saved (quads):
CO2 savings (million metric tons):
Net present value savings ($billion) 3% discount rate:
Net present value savings ($billion) 7% discount rate:


Federal Date States

Timeline reflects state standards from 2001 to present; federal standards from inception to present.