Can Computer Monitors Be More Energy Efficient?

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The EPA has passed new requirements for computer monitors to earn the ENERGY STAR label, which will take effect on October 30 of this year. The resulting monitors are expected to be 20 percent more energy efficient than what is currently available, saving $1 billion in energy costs.

Turn-off LCD monitors when not in use to prolong lifespan and save energy.

Turn-off LCD monitors when not in use to prolong lifespan and save energy. Photo: Computer-reviews.net

This is the fifth revision of qualifications for monitors to be ENERGY STAR compliant. A similar EPA ruling last year made new televisions up to 30 percent more energy efficient.

The latest requirements will also cover:

  • Digital picture frames, which have gained popularity in the last few years as a way of displaying digital pictures without printing. About 9.3 million digital picture frames were shipped last year alone.
  • Large commercial displays, found at settings including restaurants, museums and retail locations. It’s expected that this will represent 70 percent of the overall savings.

Monitor Your Options

Many computer users have embraced liquid crystal display (LCD) screens for their space-saving and light weight, and these screens can use as little as one third of the energy of a cathode ray tube (CRT) monitor. CRT screens can also have over four pounds of lead in the glass screen, making them more of a challenge during disposal.

On the flip side, LCD screens typically have a shorter lifespan than CRT monitors because they require a back light. One of the recommendations to prolong the lifespan of these monitors (while also saving energy), is to turn off LCD monitors when they are not in use. Interestingly enough, using a screen saver that displays an image ends up not saving any energy at all.

No matter what kind of screen you use, it will eventually need to be replaced. Use Earth911 to find a computer monitor recycler.

Trey Granger

Trey Granger

Trey Granger is a former senior waste stream analyst for Earth911.
Trey Granger