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Watch the Watts: Tips for Buying a New Television

March 8, 2011 - 6:30am

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Buying a new television in a complex and feature-rich market can be a daunting experience. Sure there are lots of great choices with stunning picture quality and amazing features. And with so much competition, TV prices have fallen dramatically from even a year ago.

But when my 1990-era television finally died, I was overwhelmed with choices for a flat screen TV. There are plasmas, liquid crystal displays (LCDs), and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). TVs can be Internet enabled so they can stream programming. And now there are a number of choices for 3D viewing. With so many things to consider, I decided the most important factor for me was energy consumption. At a minimum, an ENERGY STAR® rating was required on the new TV.

I was drawn to LED televisions, which are typically thinner, generate less heat, and use about 20% less energy than an LCD TV. Within the ENERGY STAR rated LED options, power consumption varied by as much as 50-70 watts depending on the TV size and manufacturer. After reviewing the energy consumption cost of a few models, I finally chose a 42-inch LED TV that uses 79 watts.

The good news for consumers is the process of comparing energy consumption is about to get easier. Televisions manufactured after May 10, 2011 are required by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to carry an EnergyGuide label. This will help consumers easily compare televisions by looking at estimated yearly energy cost.

When purchasing a new television, consider the following consumer tips:

  • Look for the ENERGY STAR rating.
  • Refer to the wattage specifications and the upcoming EnergyGuide label.
  • Consider calculating the energy cost of the television based on your typical usage.
  • Once you purchase a new TV, calibrate it by adjusting the contrast and brightness to a moderate level. By default, new televisions are set to dynamic, high-contrast settings which consume more power than standard, lower contrast settings.
  • Plug your TV and components into a smart power strip to prevent energy waste when the system is not powered on.
  • When considering components for your new television, such as a surround sound system, use the same guidelines of an ENERGY STAR rating and wattage to ensure you keep your new system as energy efficient as possible.

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