College basketball’s big Final Four tournament is approaching, and television sales will no doubt spike, as they do with most major sporting events. These days, almost every TV sold is a flat panel. And, as Tamara Keith reports, most use more energy than the old cathode ray tube TVs:
College basketball’s big Final Four tournament is approaching, and television sales will no doubt spike, as they do with most major sporting events.
These days, almost every TV sold is a flat panel. And, as Tamara Keith reports, most use more energy than the old cathode ray tube TVs:
Talking to Arshad Mansoor can leave a person feeling guilty. He’s vice president of the Electric Power Research Institute. It’s a non-profit study group.
Mansoor’s organization studies how much power different electronic devices use. Those flat screen TV’s everyone is buying– they’re at the top of his hit list.
“As we started bringing in flat screen, and as flat screen prices started coming down, television is one of the largest growth segments in terms of electricity use.”
And get this– a 42-inch flat screen TV can use as much electricity as a refrigerator. Talking to Mansoor got me thinking about my own power use. So, I asked him a hypothetical question that, let’s say, isn’t nearly as hypothetical as it sounds.
“So if I go through my house and replace every light bulb with a compact fluorescent and then I go buy a flat screen TV?”
“You almost wiped out all your savings with one plasma TV and one set-top box that you gained with replacing all your light bulbs with compact florescent.”
So, I guess I’m not as green as I thought! Part of the issue, he says, is that people don’t replace their 25-inch TV’s with 25-inch flat screens. They go bigger. But Mansoor isn’t saying that environmentally minded consumers should steer clear of flat panel TVs. He’s just saying they should shop smart.
For instance, LCD models use less energy than plasmas. Doug Johnson is senior director of technology policy for the Consumer Electronics Association. He insists not all flat screen TVs are energy hogs:
“The key thing really is how efficient are those new televisions and what we have in place now and what we’ve had in place since November 1st of last year is a new energy star specification at the national level that is encouraging a competition in the marketplace for energy efficient televisions.”
New energy star TVs are up to 30-percent more efficient than the last generation of energy stars. And there are now nearly 500 models on the market that meet the standard.
Katherine Kaplan leads Energy Star product development for the US Environmental Protection Agency. She says in the past the program only looked at how much power a TV used when it was turned off.
“Really, it was time to take our energy efficiency requirements to the next level and to focus for the first time on active power.”
At a Washington DC Best Buy, flat screens line an entire wall and half of another one. Richard Glenn can’t seem to take his eyes off of Kung Foo Panda playing on a big plasma TV:
“I have an old fashioned big and clunky TV.”
“And what’s making you shop?”
“Envy. I covet my neighbor’s flat screen.”
And Glenn knows that if he buys a new TV it will use more energy than his old one.
“This very nice plasma I’m looking at here like uses as much energy as a hair drier or something like that. It’s really really bad.”
But he just can’t resist. I ask store manager John Zittraur to point out the energy star TVs:
“Ahh. I think it would be harder to show you the ones that aren’t ’cause all of the ones that we’ve been getting in, I’d say for the past 6 months or so, have all had the energy star logo on it.”
Zittraur has plenty of energy-saving advice for people like Richard Glenn. First, don’t buy more TV than you need. Keep the TV’s brightness settings toned down. Plug the TV, the DVD, and all the other electronics into a surge protector.