GADGETS & GIZMOS
Big TVs mean big energy use
Manufacturers scramble to produce more efficient TVs
The days of large console televisions, with their wood grain exteriors and antenna wires or rabbit ears, are long gone. Today’s televisions offer larger, thinner screens and, thanks to digital cable or satellites, provide a virtually unlimited number of channels.
However, some models use a tremendous amount of energy—almost as much as a refrigerator. And the average American household owns 2.93 TVs, according to a 2010 Nielsen report.
All of this energy use adds up. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that U.S. televisions use more than 46 billion kWh a year, about 4 percent of residential electricity use.
In response to consumer concerns, manufacturers are designing TVs that use less energy without sacrificing screen size or resolution.
—NATIONAL RURAL ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE ASSOCIATION COOPERATIVE RESEARCH NETWORK
LCD models outshine efficiency of plasma sets
Although a high-definition TV can transform the latest blockbuster movie into a theater-like experience at home, these sets generally use more power to achieve better picture clarity. Also, larger screens require more electricity.
Four types of TVs are available: plasma, liquid-crystal display (LCD), rear projection, and cathode ray tube (CRT). CRT sets are out of favor because they employ old technology and screens rarely top 40 inches.
Plasma sets often are the biggest energy user—their large 42-inch to 65-inch screens typically draw 240 to 400 watts. Most consume electricity even when turned off.
LCD TVs use much less power—111 watts on average. Most LCD screens range from 21 inches to 49 inches. These TVs fall into two categories: those with cold-cathode fluorescent lamps to illuminate the screen, and backlit models employing a light-emitting diode (LED). LED units offer better picture quality and thinner, lighter screens. Most also use slightly less energy, at 101 watts.
Rear-projection TVs tend to be the most energy efficient and boast the largest screens. However, due to their weight, rear-projection sets are not as popular as plasma and LCD models.
Shopping for an energy-efficient television can be difficult. Energy consumption almost never appears on in-store labels, though federal requirements may change that in 2012. Consumers should conduct their own research through independent sources such as CNET.com, an online tech journal.
DOLLARS & SENSE
Saving energy with your current TV
If you’re not in the market for a new TV but want to make sure your model is operating efficiently, try these tips from CNET.com:
• Turn off the TV and connected devices, such as DVD players, when not in use.
• Turn down the LCD’s backlight; that will save energy while retaining good picture quality.
• If your TV has a power saver mode, use it.
• While many energy-saving tips reduce the screen’s brightness, you can compensate by dimming lights around your TV.