Are HDTVs bad for the environment?

Unfortunately, yes. The larger the HDTV, the more energy it consumes. The more energy a TV consumes, the more demand on power plants and resulting carbon emissions. Gaming consoles, DVRs and disc players also consume lots of energy that results in more demand on power plants.

A recent test was done by NPR (National Public Radio) for its “All Tech Considered” program. They tested a Pioneer Elite 50-inch plasma HDTV and it consumed a whopping 390 watts at full brightness. If left on for 5 hours a day, that television would consume more than a common refrigerator.

Even when the plasma TV was set to its energy-saving mode, which most HDTVs have, it consumed 300 watts. What does that mean for the environment? According to the study, it means half a ton of carbon dioxide emissions per year if the television is left on 5 hours a day.

To compare, NPR also tested a 32-inch LCD which at its brightest setting emitted about 115 watts — that’s much less than the plasma TV not only because of its smaller size but because LCDs are more energy efficient.

So what can you do to help conserve energy?
The first thing you can do is to make sure you shut off the factory settings when you purchase a flat screen. The factory settings, or store settings, are set to display the best picture which unfortunately is the most power hungry. Ask your retailer or call the manufacturer to learn how to switch of the factory settings.

Once you turn off the factory settings, you can set your flat screen to energy-saving mode. This usually dims the brightness of the television by different degrees, but you’ll get used to it after a while. Also keep in mind that at night, when there is no ambient light from outside, you don’t really need the TV to be at its brightest setting to enjoy great picture quality.

Other things you can to do save energy and the environment are turning off your TV, receivers, DVD players and gaming consoles when you are not using them. Unfortunately, TIVO and other DVR units need to be on to record scheduled programs. But, if you are not using your gaming console, DVD or Blu-ray player you should just turn them off. A typical gaming console will consume about 100 watts which may cost you $100 a year if left continuously on. Hey, that’s about the price of two premium games!

Lastly, you may want to consider purchasing an LCD flat screen. While plasmas do have a fantastic image quality, when compared side-by-side with LCDs they do consume more energy. There have been some new developments in producing plasmas that use less energy, but at this point in time most LCDs are more energy efficient.

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Jeff Chabot

Jeff Chabot

Jeff Chabot writes about technology, broadcasting, and digital entertainment. You can also find him on Gameverse, Gadget Review, and Google+.

2 Replies to “Are HDTVs bad for the environment?”

  1. adam w. says:

    you should do some reading. i heard a study that said during the superbowl HDTVs can demand like 30-40% of the power from a plant. in a few years, you could end up with a blackout in the 4th quarter with 5 minutes left. how would you like that?

    thats why California will adopt new HDTV energy standards. here is an article.

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5g3w7X3VHPyhKNiB28Le6hQyZ6EpgD9611F180

    that’s not tree hugging, just common sense.

  2. Steve says:

    Who cares? According to tree huggers, everything we have that is advanced is bad for the Earth. If it was up to most of these hippies we wouldn’t even have tv or a computer. We’d be driving carriages and eating tofu.

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