Which appliance uses more energy: a refrigerator or television? Consumers may not realize that some large entertainment TVs—when used an average of five hours per day—can cost more to operate than a new, basic refrigerator. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 44 percent of American homes have three or more television sets. To keep your electric bills in check, here are some tips to consider before buying a new television:
Three parts of a TV impact energy use: display technology, screen size, and resolution. Plasma and liquid-crystal display (LCD) are the two most popular types of display technologies. Plasma screens often are cited as the largest energy user―mainly because their large 42-inch to 65- inch screens typically draw between 240 watts to 400 watts.
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.
Most prospective buyers already have the ideal screen size in mind; remember that the larger the screen, the more energy you’ll drain. And although a high-definition TV (HDTV) can transform the latest blockbuster movie into a theater-like living room experience on a giant TV screen, these sets generally use more power to generate better picture clarity.
ENERGY STAR Boosts Ratings
ENERGY STAR TVs cut an estimated $3.5 billion from consumer electric bills annually. Today’s ENERGY STAR-qualified screens use, on average, 40 percent less energy than standard models, whether you’re watching it or have the screen turned off in standby mode. ENERGY STAR provides an online guide so potential buyers can find qualified televisions ranked by energy use, size, brand, and display type at www.energystar.gov.
ERGY STAR Partners like TopTen USA also maintain lists of the top energy efficient televisions (and other household appliances) based on size at www.toptenusa.org.
Look for Labels
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has recognized the need for education and easy comparisons for the amount of energy televisions consume. In 2011, a yellow Energy Guide label—a common sight on refrigerators, dishwashers, and other large appliances.
The label compares the annual operating cost of a specific television to the plug-in cost of similar models. The label must be attached to the front of all televisions; websites selling televisions must also provide an image of the label for prospective buyers.
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 may help you save energy:
Turn off the TV and other connected devices when they’re not being used—consider using smart power strips to eliminate continually power draw.
Reduce TV brightness by turning down the LCD backlight―you’ll save energy and still retain good picture quality.
Turn on the power saver mode, which many new TVs offer
Your television set isn’t the only energy-guzzler in your residence. Visit accessenergycoop.com to find more ways to save energy and money at home.
Sources: Megan McKoy-Noe; ENERGY STAR, Federal Trade Commission, Cooperative Research Network, CNET.com, Energy Information Administration