How much electricity do flat-screen televisions use?

People worldwide spend an average 3h15 watching TV every day. By way of comparison, people in France spend on average “only” 30 minutes surfing the internet. This relatively intensive use of TV sets raises the issue of their power consumption. Set aside the electric devices which are permanently turned on (such as a refrigerator), TV sets are indeed one of the appliances we rely most upon in our daily life. Three out of four European consumers reportedly deal with the issue of electricity consumption at the time of purchase, according to a survey conducted by the GFK Institute in 2008. Which are the main criteria to be taken into account in order to assess the energy efficiency of a television? What are today’s most promising technologies?flat-screen televisions, energy efficiency, OLED, electricity consumption, energy labels

New energy-intensive models

Conventional cathode ray tube (CRT) displays have progressively given way to flat screens since 2006. Using plasma or LCD technologies, these new models have quickly captured the market. Picture quality is significantly superior, and so is the electricity consumption of flat screens: whereas a 32-inch CRT set uses an average 292 kWh every year, a 42-inch plasma TV monitor uses an average 746kWh.

Size and technology matter

A larger screen usually uses more energy. A study shows that all things being equal, the difference in power consumption between 32 and 42-inch screens represents an average saving of 11€ per year during 7 years. The same goes with the kind of television you consider. According to the website consoglobe.com, “the extra energy-cost of plasma is 10 to 20% more than LCD”. Choosing an LCD screen over a plasma display could save you around 17€ every year.

OLED, the future of efficient TV screens?

In many ways, the OLED technology fulfils the criteria of eco-conception. The pictures displayed are directly produced from organic matter, that is without background illumination, which all the more improves power savings (around 40 watts per hour, compared with 133 for a conventional LCD screen). However, this figure needs to be put into perspective, since so far this technology is limited to small-size screens.

The EU pays close attention to the energy efficiency of home appliances

In 2005 the rumour had it that plasma displays could be hauled off the market because they were deemed too harmful to the environment. This threat served to pressure manufacturers to abide by European legislation on energy efficiency. For instance, it was decided in 2010 that appliances on standby mode should not use more than one watt per hour. On the other hand, manufacturers strived to adapt their production before European law entered into force. Between 2008 and 2010, the average electricity consumption was cut by 23%.

In order to make an enlightened choice, consumers can rely on the appliances’ energy labels made compulsory by a 2010 European Directive. The most efficient devices are rewarded with a green grade (up until A+++) whereas appliances with poor energy performance get a red G. Besides, there are specialized websites allowing to compare the features of different models. Finally, there is a simple but too little known way to cut the energy consumption of your TV set…  just turn the volume down!

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Tags : flat-screen televisions, energy efficiency, OLED, electricity consumption, energy labels

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