Big screen TVs: the energy efficient choice

large screen televisionsWhat’s not to love about a big-screen telly? No need to worry about climate change and the drought-stricken Murray-Darling basin when your behind is nestled in the comfort of the sofa and the cinema-like screen dances before your eyes.

But have you checked your power bills since the big telly wormed its way into your heart?

Large-screen televisions – particularly older-model plasmas – chew through the electricity in a way that traditional tellies and their handbag-sized screens never did.

In fact, it’s becoming so bad that experts like Keith Jones from Digital Cnergy Australia says the average household will use more electricity turning on their big tellies than they do powering energy-guzzling refrigerators by 2012.

“TVs have not historically been big energy users, unlike the hot water service or refrigerator, but because we are all upsizing that’s changing,” says Energy Australia’s efficiency guru Paul Myors.

Hooking up the big-screens to our stereos or home theatre equipment adds to the energy-gobbling ways of the equipment, according to RMIT university adjunct professor Alan Pears. What’s more, Energy Efficient Strategies consultant Lloyd Harrington has found 40 per cent of us leave our televisions on stand-by rather than turn them off.

Our big TVs could send more greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere than appliances like the dishwasher, clothes dryer or washing machine, especially if we haven’t been good little Vegemites and switched over to a green energy provider.

It’s fair to say that many big-screen televisions use four times as much power as the smaller Cathode Ray Televisions we used to watch, but power-consumption varies widely between brands and models.

“The best advice you can give a consumer is to switch to the newest televisions – all the manufacturers are environmentally conscious and trying to reduce energy consumption. An early generation plasma screen could use twice as much power as one that is being sold today,” he says.

Pears says television technology is changing all the time, with laser television and organic light emitting diode technology slashing power use by half to three-quarters of typical large-screen tellies.

“An LCD with a modulating backlight is the most efficient type of television I have tested. If you can buy a model with that particular feature, you won’t use as much power,” Jones says.


This was first published in House & Garden magazine.