Watch TV Without the Waste

Watch without wasting energy

More efficient TVs could save energy. According to the EPA, Americans’ 275 million TVs consume over 50 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity each year. That’s 4% of U.S. households’ total electrical consumption–enough to power all the homes in the state of New York for an entire year.

Energy Star television

So when you buy a TV you might want to see what you can do about shrinking that number to save energy. First, think about the size and type of screen. Smaller screens use less energy than big ones, so it’s smart to consider how big a screen you actually need. For example, a 52-inch TV with an LCD screen might require 400 watts or more when it is turned on, whereas a 19-inch LCD might use only 40 or 45 watts. In general LCD and CRT screens save energy more than DLPs or plasmas. Even within these categories, though, are energy misers and energy hogs. Fifty-inch plasma models can vary by almost 180 watts.

To compare models, look at wattage ratings. That can be difficult, given the huge variety of TVs, but it will soon become easier. Starting in November 2008, the EPA will give an Energy Star label to the TVs that save energy the most. A preview of models that have already qualified, some of which are 30% more efficient than non-qualified models, is available on the Energy Star website.

Top Tips

At home

  • Turn off the TV. It sounds like a no-brainer, but vast amounts of power are wasted by televisions that are on when nobody’s watching them.
  • Turn off the power strip. When the TV is off, it’s a good idea to switch off the power strip, too, or unplug the TV. While today’s televisions use comparatively little power in the standby mode, it does add up.

When shopping, look for

  • Energy savings. Buy an Energy Star model–and look at wattage ratings to save energy. The energy use of TVs varies widely, even within the Energy Star group.

Other Considerations

Manufacturing a TV requires heavy metals and other dangerous substances. Check out Greenpeace‘s list of the manufacturers that are most responsible in handling these substances.


…to you
If you buy and operate your TV with efficiency in mind, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you’re not wasting energy.

…to your wallet
You can save as much as $100 a year in energy costs by buying an efficient TV.

…to the Earth
Energy-smart TVs will reduce pollution from power plants and cut emissions of global warming gases. A TV that needs 400 watts can cause the release over 6 tons of carbon dioxide each year, while some smaller or more efficient models can cut those emissions by 90 percent.

Common Mistakes

Trashing the old TV. Dumping a TV or handing it over to a company that doesn’t recycle its parts safely can sully the environment with all kinds of poisonous substances. If the TV still works well, give it to someone who can use it. Or find a responsible recycler.

Getting Started

To find recyclers in your area, go to Earth 911. Once you locate one, ask where the recyclable components will be sent and how they will be handled.

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  1. Randy December 15, 2009
  2. will May 10, 2010
  3. Fey May 10, 2010
  4. dorah gomez May 10, 2010

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