Watch for Big
By Brian Sloboda
The days of large console
televisions, with their wood grain exteriors and antenna wires
or rabbit ears, are long gone-no more using needle nose
pliers to change channels after
the knob breaks or fiddling endlessly to adjust the
horizontal and vertical holds. Today's
televisions offer larger, thinner screens and, thanks to
digital cable or satellite connections,
provide a virtually unlimited number of channels.
However, some models require a tremendous amount of energy
to operate--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 Defenses Council found that U.S. televisions use more
than 46 billion kWh per year, or about 4 percent of residential
electricity use. In response to consumer concerns, TV manufacturers
are designing sets that use less energy without sacrificing screen size or
Are you in the market for a new TV,
or do you want to make sure you're using your current TV efficiently?
These tips will help you tune in to big screen energy savings.
High-Definition = High Energy Use
Although a high-definition
TV (HDTV) transforms the latest blockbuster movie into a theater-like
living room experience, these sets generally use more power because of
better picture clarity. Also, energy consumption often relates to
screen size. The larger the screen, the more electricity required.
Four types of TVs are
currently available: plasma, liquid-crystal display (LCD), rear
projection, and cathode ray tube (CRT). CRT televisions are the most
difficult to find because they employ old technology and screen sizes
rarely top 40 inches.
Plasma screens often are cited as
the largest energy usermainly because their large 42-inch to
65- inch screens typically draw between 240 watts to 400 watts. Most
consume electricity even when turned off.
LCD TVs don't need much power to
operate 111 watts on average. Most LCD screens range in size 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 several
benefits, notably better picture quality and thinner and lighter screens.
They also use slightly less energy, at 101 watts.
Rear projection televisions tend to
be the most energy efficient and boast the largest
screen sizes. However, due to their overall weight, rear
projection sets are not as readily available as plasma and LCD models.
Shopping for an
energy-efficient television can be difficult. Television manufacturers
rarely advertise energy consumption, and it almost never appears on
in-store labels, though new ENERGY STAR® requirements may change that in
Faced with these difficulties,
consumers need to conduct their own energy use research
through unbiased online sources such as CNET.com, an online
journal for the technology
industry. Look for specific model numbers, which you can
take to the store.
Tune in to Savings
If you're not in the market for a
new TV but want to make sure your model is operating efficiently, these
tips from CNET.com may help you save energy:
· Turn the TV and
other connected devices off when they're not being used
· Turn down the
LCD's backlight--you'll save energy and still retain better picture
· Turn on the power
saver mode, which many new TVs offer
Control room lighting. While many
energysaving tips reduce brightness of the screen,
you can compensate by dimming lights around your TV.
Brian Sloboda is a program manager specializing in energy
efficiency for the Cooperative Research Network, a service of the
Arlington, Va.-based National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
Magen Howard contributed to this article.
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