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The Switch From Analog to Digital TV Shouldn’t Make New Energy Hogs

Plasma TV is an energy hog

It is now only a little more than a month away until analog TV broadcasting will end and be switched over to digital broadcasting. With the economy crashing there has been some talk about postponing it but right now this conversion remains on schedule.

The 15.5 million people in the US who still only watch TV with antenna reception will have make the change by either getting a digital TV converter box or signing up with a digital cable or satellite service if they want to continue watching TV. However, this change is confusing to many people who think they also will need to go out and buy a new TV (if they haven’t already) Many will be tempted to buy the giant 40″ – 60″ Plasma TV’s with their insanely cheap pricing but what they might not realize is how amount of energy they consume. A 42″ Plasma screens can use up to 600 kilowatt-hours per year – add another 250 kWh from the cable box and you are talking massive energy consumption, a 42-inch plasma TV set can draw more power than a large refrigerator, even if the TV is only used a few hours a day.

If millions of people start adding this additional new energy drain on our electrical grid it starts to become a significant percentage of energy use. Televisions now consume about 4 percent of household electricity nationally we can expect this percentage to grow as more people opt for the big screens.

Most of which is not only wasted by the vast emptiness and mindlessness of network TV programming but also from the fact that much of this power is used when the TV isn’t even being watched or turned on. This is all happening at exactly the wrong time, when we should be figuring out how to reduce energy use, reuse and recycle – millions of TVs will now be headed for the dump and millions more brand new energy hogs will soon be let loose to forage our electric grid.

If you want find the best green options for the your TV, the best solution is to simply keep whatever TV you currently have and hook it up to a convertor box – and unplug it except for the rare occasion you need to actually watch it. Or just use your computer to watch many programs. But if you are like me and want to watch the Colbert Report and the Daily Show, Lost, Sundance and HBO in high-def then a newer and smaller LCD (32″ or less) is your best option in terms of saving energy. Here is a good Scientific American article on choosing an energy efficient TV.

Sony recently announced its new 32-inch Bravia KDL-32JE1 LCD model as “the world’s most energy efficient television.” It went on sale in Japan in August 2008 but I couldn’t find any information on when it would be available elsewhere. Sharp has some more energy-efficient models and also showed a prototype of a solar-powered energy efficient TV, which seems a bit strange – but there you have it. Treehugger recommends the Sharp Aquos LC-20B8U-S 20 inch set as being the least power hungry of high def TV’s.

For some excellent information on everything you would need to know about reducing energy use from your TV check out the GreenNav’s Open Blog article here.

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