Most people shopping for a high-definition television (HDTV) consider screen size, resolution, and auxiliary connections—but what about energy use? According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the more than 275 million TVs in this country consume over 50 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity each year. That’s equivalent to the output of more than 10 coal-fired power plants, according to researchers at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
While display technology has become more efficient over the years—liquid-crystal display (LCD) technology uses less energy per square inch than older cathode-ray tube (CRT) technology—energy use increases with screen size regardless of the technology. Some of today’s HDTVs, as a matter of fact, can consume more electricity in a year than a refrigerator.
Energy consumption varies widely between HDTVs, even between models of similar size. There are ways to ensure your new TV is as efficient as possible:
* Choose the most efficient technology. There are three HDTV technologies on the market today: plasma, LCD, and rear-projection microdisplay (commonly known as DLP, or digital light processing). A study by technology reviewer CNET found that, on average, plasma TVs are the least efficient, consuming 0.33 watt of electricity per square inch of screen, while LCD TVs are slightly better at 0.28 watt per inch. Your best choice to save energy is DLP, which consumes only 0.13 watt per inch.
* Choose Energy Star-rated models. On November 1, 2008, the EPA released new Energy Star specifications that now set maximum energy consumption limits for TVs in both standby and active modes (previous specifications applied only to standby mode). TVs that meet these new requirements (see the Related Resources) will be up to 30 percent more efficient than non-qualified models.
Even if you’re not in the market for a new TV, there are ways to reduce the energy being consumed by your current TV:
* Unplug the TV when it is not in use. TVs that have a standby mode continue to draw power even when turned “off.”
* Turn off the “quick start” option (if applicable). Just by waiting a few more seconds for the TV to warm up, you can significantly reduce standby power consumption.
* Turn down the brightness settings. Many LCD TVs also have a backlight setting that is often set in stores to be brighter than necessary for most home environments.
* Buy an Energy Star-rated digital-to-analog (DTA) converter box if you own an analog TV and do not plan to upgrade to digital by February 2009. According to the EPA, if all analog TV owners used Energy Star converter boxes, global warming pollution would be lowered by an amount equivalent to taking a million cars off the road.