Does Your Big Screen TV Equal Big Power Consumption?

BigScreenThe average American household has four or more television (TV) sets, according to a Nielson survey; there are now more than 115 million TV homes. Moreover, today’s high-definition, liquid crystal display (LCD), plasma and light-emitting diode (LED) flat-screen models are much thinner and lighter than the older, cathode ray tube (CRT) models, requiring no more room than a framed picture. As a result, it is not unusual to find them in many of the places where you spend time away from home, including airport terminals, offices, restaurants and schools.

This has many of us wondering how much energy it takes to power these bigger, brighter TVs. Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer, since the amount of energy used depends on the technology (LCD, LED or plasma), screen size and picture brightness. For instance, the larger the screen size, the greater the energy use when the TV is turned on and displaying a picture (active mode). Today’s big-screen TVs and all of the connected components can add nearly $200 to your annual energy bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

A recent CNET test measured power use (in watts of different calibrated picture settings of TV sets ranging in size from 32 to 65 inches. Calibrated settings includes adjusting the luminance (light output) of a television to a certain level. Since power use varies luminance, it provides a direct comparison of power use at different settings. Power draw ranged from 48 to 400 watts, at a cost of $10 to $80 a year.

Plasma TVs typically use 20 percent more energy than similarly sized LCD models. Energy use goes up as the resolution increases, which means a 720p plasma TV will consume less energy than a 1080p plasma TV. With recent improvements in active mode energy use, however, studies show that newer plasma models are comparable to LCD TVs when it comes to energy efficiency. Moreover, the picture quality of many plasma TVs exceeds the picture quality of older LCD models.

LED TVs are thinner and more energy efficient than conventional LCD models, although they are generally more expensive to purchase.

Energy-saving tips

Take these steps to improve the efficiency of your television without compromising picture quality:

  • Reduce the contrast or picture control (brightness) to cut energy use nearly in half.
  • Use the picture off (available on some models) setting when listening to the TV but not actively watching.
  • Use the programmable timer (sleep timer).
  • Not using the instant on feature will reduce energy use almost 50 percent in standby mode.
  • If your TV is equipped with a power save mode, use it.
  • Turn off the TV, DVR and other connected components when not in use.
  • Save energy by lowering the volume setting and turning it off during commercials.
  • Read seating recommendations before purchasing a large screen TV. You may find that a smaller screen is more appropriate for the size of your room.

Consider replacing your current television with an ENERGY STAR qualified model. ENERGY STAR sets are 25 percent more efficient than standard models.