Finally, our old television died. After a brief period of mourning, we found ourselves motivated to find a replacement. But what would it be? A friend advised "you need to get a big wide-screen, you will love it." My first thought was, they can be energy hogs. In a household where we are looking for reasonable ways to cut energy use, this could be step backward.
So off to the stores we go. A couple of things did not surprise me. First, the bigger the screen, the more energy it takes, and second, the newer sets are more efficient than the older ones.
A few surprises. Prices are dropping quite dramatically. This may not bode well for the environment if every room in every home has a TV, all of them operating at once. Another surprise: almost every model on display had an Energy Star sticker. I had thought that Energy Star was for the "best of the best" that could meet stringent requirements. Apparently, Energy Star had dragged the whole industry along in a positive direction. Still, I asked sales associates which models were most energy-efficient for a given size class. I heard what became a familiar refrain: "Don't worry they all cost less to operate now." Still, in one store I noticed stickers on every display model that identified an annual cost for comparison purposes. It then became obvious there is a lot a variation among major brands and models. It also did not take long to realize that Samsung leads the pack in terms of energy usage. We found a good LED/LCD Samsung with a 32-inch class that uses less energy than a 40 watt light bulb, about half of our old CRT set.
Still, Mr. Electricity himself, Michael Bluejay, advises in his Web site that television energy consumption is not the issue it used to be. Most homes have other areas to look at first for those who want to reduce their carbon footprints... like the refrigerator, for example.
One last task. It's easy to obsess over the tiny amount of mercury in CFL bulbs, but the old set is chock full of toxic materials. With the new Illinois law banning the landfilling of electronics, we will take the old clunker to the Village of Glen Ellyn electronics collection on January 28. For more information, see ttp://www.glenellyn.org/GE/Electronics_Recycling.html