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Television: The Picture of Efficiency

Channel Energy Savings

Since the average American spends about 5.2 hours a day watching TV,1 they are easily one of the most energy consuming items in our homes especially as new technology has led to increases in screen size. Fortunately, new TVs also typically come with energy-saving functions and modes. The key is making sure that these modes are enabled.

Out with the Old…

Cathode ray tube TVs have virtually become obsolete due to their bulkiness and screen-size limitations, as well as their poor image quality, energy inefficiency, and non-recyclability. Today, flat-panel plasma screens and liquid crystal displays (LCDs) are widely popular and generally affordable to the average consumer, keeping pace with high definition electronics such as Blu-ray players.


Screen It: LCD Screens

LCD screens are more efficient than plasma screens, even at higher resolutions, because the pixels are on an LCD panel as opposed to being lit individually as they are on a plasma panel. The image on a LCD screen is created by a single light source shining through the panel. The light source can be a fluorescent lamp, or LED. LEDs are one of the most efficient light sources, but also tend to cost more.


Established Efficiency: Rear Projection

Rear projection technology has been around a long time, and is the most efficient type of TV per square inch. Rear-projection TVs magnify a small projected image onto the screen via lenses and light. They’re bulkier than LCD and plasma sets, so rear-projection screens are less widely available.


Signals of Change: Digital TVs

Standard or high-definition digital TVs can receive more information than analog TVs using the same bandwidth, so their images have a higher resolution. Digital signals also tend to stay more consistent without fading or distorting over a longer distance compared to analog signals.2


Screen It: Plasma Screens

If you’re a movie fan, a plasma screen may be the choice for you. Plasma screens have a wider viewing angle, along with excellent motion resolution and image quality, though the glass tends to create glare at times. Plasma screen technology is less efficient than LCD screens, however, because every pixel is its own light source, like thousands of tiny light bulbs on a screen panel. This means that any increase in resolution on a plasma screen means an increase in energy use. Additionally, the pixels must be brighter for larger screens, increasing energy use up to twice the amount of that used by LCD screens for a similar image.3


Use & Care

Proper maintenance and use of your home’s television will maximize efficiency measures. Learn more about Television Use & Care, where to start, and how to care for and operate TVs for the most savings.

Buyer’s Guide

Before you shop for efficiency upgrades, visit the Television Buyer’s Guide for easy facts and figures that can help you choose the best electronics for your home, needs and budget.

1CNET.  (2010).  Energy Efficiency Guide: The Basics of TV Power.  Retrieved July 20, 2011, from reviews.cnet.com
2ENERGY STAR®What Else Should I Look for When Shopping for TVs?  Retrieved July 20, 2011, from energystar.gov
3CNET.  (2010).  Energy Efficiency Guide: The Basics of TV Power.  Retrieved July 20, 2011, from reviews.cnet.com

This program is funded by California utility customers and administered by Southern California Edison under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission.

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