Study Claims TVs Are Bigger, Better and Efficient

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According to a study commissioned by the Consumer Electronics Association, standard fluorescent backlighting for LCD TVs is rapidly being replaced with LEDs, which will make TVs more efficient. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A new study detailing the energy usage of the best-selling televisions in the U.S. found that big-screen LCD televisions’ consumption has dropped drastically, from approximately 450 watts in 2008 to less than 200 watts in 2010 for 55- to 70-inch screens.

Commissioned by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the “Power Consumption Trends in Digital TVs Produced Since 2003″ report rated televisions with screen sizes ranging from 13 to 65 inches. It found that “the power consumption of the average TV sold in 2010 consumes less energy than a 100-watt incandescent light bulb and less power than what is needed to light a typical living room.”

Televisions have two power modes: active and standby. Ninety percent of a televisions’ annual electricity consumption is used during active modes. That means 10 percent of energy is lost to “vampire power,” a term often used to refer to energy device consumes when it’s plugged in but turned off.

While past figures have claimed that larger LCD and plasma televisions actually consume more energy than the old-school cathode ray tube (CRT) models, the study tells a different story.

“Many consumers don’t realize they can replace an old analog TV with a new flat-panel digital TV that uses less energy,” said Douglas Johnson, vice president of technology policy, CEA, in a press release.

“Power consumption in TVs has fallen dramatically in the relatively short history of digital television thanks to the success of the Energy Star program combined with technological innovation, industry competition and consumer demand.”

But with new technology comes more waste. Consumers that replace their CRT models with an LCD television are often unaware or unresponsive to local recycling programs. In fact, in 2007, Americans discarded nearly 27 million TVs, only 18 percent of which were recycled, according to the U.S. EPA.

Tossing CRT televisions poses a huge environmental and safety threat as their materials have tested hazardous under Federal law. Often referred to as one of the hardest electronics to recycle, CRTs have a high concentration of lead and phosphorus. The recycling process is pricey, but recyclers often offset the costs by extracting and selling valuable copper, wire and CRT glass.

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