Green Your T.V.

In keeping step with this weeks unplanned theme of environmentalism, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the best and worst televisions in energy efficiency. Technology comes at a price; Rebecca Smith of The Wall Street Journal states that a 42 inch plasma screen can suck as much energy as a refridgerator, even if it is used for only hours a day (new standby modes account for this usage). Adding on extra features to your boob tube, like entertainment consoles, sound systems, video game consoles, can tack on about $200 to a household energy bill. Yikes. So what is the green-conscious television lover to do?

The first step is to look for Energy Star labels on certain products, which indicates a higher level of energy efficiency. In addition to this, go LCD instead of plasma. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates plasma televisions use 5x more energy for the same size screen as an LCD. Adding HDTV to the mix increases energy use, due to the increased transmission needed to create the more detailed picture. Even better than a new LCD is a CRT (Cathode-Ray Tube) conventional television, which is still the most energy efficient television type out there. Let’s face it, though: how many people are going to want to use their old boob tube when there are better, brighter sets out there?

CNET recently reviewed 150 different HDTVs for energy efficiency, based on screen size and watts. The Philips 42PFL5603D (42 inch) came out at the top, with the lowest cost to run at $20.22 (based on U.S. price of energy in 2008 per kilowatt hour and if running for 5.2 hours a day). The runner up was 32 inch Panasonic TC-32LX85. The lowest ranked television based on cost? The Sharp LC-65D90U (65 inches), which will cost you a whopping $185.05 per year to run.

What can you do with your current television to reduce costs? The easiest choice would be to turn it off, and watch less often, but other tips may be a little less obvious.

1. Turn off other accessories when not using them. DVD players, game consoles, etc. Can really wreak havoc on your bills.

2. Turn down the LCD backlight; this will reduce energy use and darken the screen, which may even increase the picture quality.

3. Turn down the other lights in the room; this will reduce the need to increase and mess with lighting settings on your television.

4. Go smaller: smaller screens use less energy, for the most part (unless you go from LCD to plasma)

5. Watch with others: instead of using multiple televisions in your house to view the same (or even different) programs, gather together for some bonding time with you and your family/friends/roommates.

6. Use your laptop–online television is booming, and more shows and series are available on the Internet than before. Most laptops are more efficient than televisions, unless you have a monstrous desktop that you leave on 24/7.

Best idea yet? It’s summer! Get outside!

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