LCD or Plasma TVs?
At the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas more people were talking about "green" electronics than at any time in the past, and more green electronics will be available in 2008. .. but if you're considering buying a new television now, what should you look for?
According to the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration color TVs account for almost 3% of US household electricity consumption.
Unfortunately, getting an accurate picture of the total electricity consumption of your TV before you buy is not as easy as with some other categories of appliances. For refrigerators, an "Energy Star" rating gives an estimate of annual electricity or fuel consumption. For televisions, the rating only governs how efficiently the unit powers down or goes into standby. Televisions can have the same “Energy Star” rating but use widely different amounts of power. The current standard for a stand-alone TV is less than 1 watt on standby, and 15 watts for digital cable ready (DCR) televisions with a point of deployment (POD) slot – a TV and cable box in one (these TV’s are not really on the market yet).
It’s still worth it to buy an “Energy Star” rated TV. Some TVs still use 10, 25 or even 50 watts when they are off. Think about it – assume people watch 2 hours a day (we all know we watch more than that, but that is a different topic all together!). With the TV off 22 hours per day, 365 days per year, standby consumes 80 kilowatt Hours for the 10 watt standby and 401 kilowatt Hours for the 50 watt standby – that is just under what an efficient energy star fridge would use! Multiply this by 2 or 3 TV’s per household, and it starts to add up quickly.
Don’t forget, the same standby power consumption applies to DVD players, VCR’s, amplifiers, etc. EPA Fun fact: The average home has roughly two TVs, a VCR, a DVD player and three telephones. If these items were replaced with ENERGY STAR models, it would save over 25 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent to taking over 3 million cars off the road. Now, you can avoid this by using a surge strip to REALLY power off the TV. There are now even smart strips which can power off peripherals when the main unit, like a TV or computer stops drawing power.
Here are some general guidelines, although individual makes and models vary:
• LCD uses less power than Plasma (and Microdisplays use less than both – sometimes called rear-projection)
• Smaller screens use less power!
• Energy Star is a must
• Make sure you enable power saving features once you bring the TV home
The folks at CNET have done a great job estimating the annual total electricity consumption of a large number of TV’s. Click here to see before you buy: http://reviews.cnet.com/4520-6475_7-6400401-3.html?tag=arw - and they have some good tips about saving energy with TV settings.
If you aren’t in a rush, wait for new technology that's coming soon – in 3-5 years, the OLED will be available– organic light emitting diode – think of it as the LED’s of Television. They are more efficient than LCDs and probably will avoid some of the chemicals involved in making all televisions screens.
And as with all electronics, be sure to donate your old TV it to a charity that will resell it, give it to a friend who will use it, or recycle it properly: http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/osw/conserve/plugin/index.htm.
The Live Earth Green Team
**photo by Mark Hooper.