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The Green Life: Energy Star's TV Standards Could Be Better

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December 08, 2008

Energy Star's TV Standards Could Be Better

FlatScreenTV According to the Energy Star website, televisions account for 4 percent of total household energy use, but energy consumption labeling can be misleading.  As of last month, Energy Star has implemented stricter standards  to make TV sets "30 percent more efficient."

NPR reports that TV sales, the size of sets, and the hours spent in front of them are increasing. Plasma TVs use the most energy at about 300 to 390 watts when turned on; by contrast, a 32-inch LCD screen uses about 115 watts. CNET compares the different types of TVs -- and the plasma varieties got the lowest scores.

TV energy consumption is measured in two categories: standby power consumption and on-mode power consumption (CNET has a helpful page describing the basics of TV power). But these measurements are only relative to other TV sets, not maximum efficiency, while the initial Energy Star standards were based only on the amount of electricity used when a TV is in standby mode.

Energy Star has been one of the more successful government-led programs in reducing energy consumption and providing consumer information. It is surprising, then, to find them lacking in standards for TV sets. The website says a TV is "saving energy when [it's] turned off." But what about when it's in use? While it is indeed important that appliances use minimal energy in standby mode, it is misleading to base measurements solely on standby power consumption.


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