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TV or Not TV

February 13, 2012 - 5:15am

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According to the Nielsen Company, about 54% of homes in the U.S. had three or more television sets in 2009. I hate to admit it, but I’m average – I have three. However, any burglar would have laughed himself silly at the “electronics” in my house. Last fall I had four VERY old CRT TVs. They all worked, but needed an analog-to-digital converter box. I do hate to get rid of something that still works, and you can’t even give those away any more. I finally recycled the (at least) 30-yr-old 13” TV at NREL’s responsible electronics recycling day in December – it hadn’t been used in years anyway. A few days after the recycling event (of course), the main TV died (a 26” one purchased in 1994 – ONLY 17 years old). For the last few years, for some reason when the power to the set went out, the power cable would quit working. I’d buy a new $14 cable, and the TV would start working again – until the next time the power to the set was disconnected. When I went away for Thanksgiving last fall, I made it a point NOT to turn off the surge protector for the main TV—the few cents it would cost to operate while I was away was lots cheaper than a new power cable—but it quit working shortly after I got home, and this time the “quick fix” didn’t work.

One more down, ready for the next responsible electronics recycling day in April, leaving me with an (unknown age, but very old) 19” set with one connector for the antenna (that’s all – no hookups for the DVD player or games or anything else) gathering dust in the guest room, and a 24-year-old 20” TV that I also can’t hook anything except an antenna to and that the sound is going out on—a recent development—so it’s definitely a candidate for replacement and recycling.

So it’s finally (past) time for a new TV. In starting my research, a leading consumer reporting magazine lists (among other statistics) the annual cost of electricity various models/brands of TVs use; the range is about $13–$18 per year for a 32” flat screen TV. Hmm. Time to get out the power meter and see what the old TVs are using. I put the power meter on the 19” and left it attached for a week. It used a little over $0.26 for the week—almost $14 a year—or at the lower end of the new flat screens. But it doesn’t DO anything other than play current, over-the-air TV, and it does need the converter box, which I didn’t meter.

Super Bowl week! Not that I’m a football fan, but I am a fan of the sales. I bought not one, but two new TVs – ENERGY STAR® models, of course. In reading the product specs, the smaller one should cost about $5.45 for electricity for a year, or about 60% less than my oldest TV, and the bigger one should cost about $9 a year, a 36% savings, for a combined energy use of just slightly over what ONE old TV used. An added benefit is that they are both digital TVs and I no longer need converter boxes – more energy saved. And they are LIGHT! The new 22” flat screen only weighs 9 pounds, and the new 32” only weighs 22 pounds! Guess I’ll even save energy toting them up the stairs too.

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