12 Most Energy Efficient TVs

By Vernon Trollinger, August 1, 2012, Energy Efficiency, FAQs, Green, News

12 most energy efficient TVsWith all the innovations in flat-panel technology and decreasing prices, now is a great time to buy a new television. However, the amount of energy some TVs gobble up can really add to your electric bill. This is especially true during this summer’s sweltering temps when your air conditioner is running almost non-stop. Some of the biggest televisions, for example, can use as much electricity as a 500 kWh refrigerator (and put out almost as much heat).

Fortunately, you’re not alone. Energystar has a guide to help you choose the most energy efficient televisions no matter what size you are looking for. Of course, it’s good to have a basic idea how the TVs work, and to be sure, TVs have come a long way from the bulky consoles of the 1960s and 1970s.

Electron guns vs pixels

Old cathode ray tube (CRTs) TVs had big glass vacuum picture tubes. Each one had an electron gun that fired electrons down the glass barrel that fluoresced when they hit the coating on the inside of the picture tube. CRTs used lots of electricity, gave off lots of heat, weighed a lot, and took up lots of room. One thing they didn’t have was a lot of resolution. New flat-panel TVs have nearly 2 1/2 times the resolution and screen size, plus many have micro processors that smooth out the frame rates on movies that make them look jerky on old CRT TVs. Plus, flat-panel technology used is more energy efficient.

Currently, there are three screen technologies contending in the flat-panel ring: LCD, LED, and plasma. LCD panels create a digital image on a Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) and uses a cold cathode fluorescent lamp mounted on a panel behind it to illuminate the screen. LED flat panels use the same LCD screen to present the image, but instead use Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) to light up the screen (either from behind or the sides). Technically, they’re LED-backlit LCD TVs. The difference is that LCD flat panels using only one fluorescent lamps have a fairly fixed color range on the screen. LED TVs have hundreds of LEDs that can be controlled independently and thus can offer a more dynamic and adaptable picture.

Plasma televisions use neon and xenon gas in tiny trios of capsules that form a pixel. When a pixel is zapped by electricity, the gas in each capsules turns into plasma. As soon as the zapping stops, the pixel emits ultraviolet light that hits red, green, or blue phosphors and thus creates the color of that pixel. In a High Definition (HD) (1920 x 1080 resolution) plasma television there are 3,000 pixels. The image color and the speed of the screen is the reason to buy them. Plasma sets have better color ranges, contrast ratios, provide wider viewing angles, handle fast action with better clarity, and produce richer levels of black. The problem is that while plasma TVs used less electricity than CRT sets, they were still were not very energy efficient. Over the years, though, they have improved.

Every television model has its issues, but there are some general things to keep in mind:

Size matters. The bigger the television, the more energy it will use. How energy efficient it is depends on how much is has to do.

Plasma TVs tend to run hotter. After all, they are making colors by charging gas into plasma. They even have small fans mounted on the inside to exhaust hot air. Energy.gov rates the energy efficiency of plasma sets from 127.3 kWh/year for a 42 inch television up to 194.14 kWh/year for a 60 inch. While high when compared to LED back lit sets, they are roughly three times more miserly with their usage than earlier plasma sets. Plasma sets are somewhat usually heavier —so keep it in mind when considering mounting it on the wall.

Back lighting. It’s no coincidence that all the current top-rated energy efficient TVs are LED back-lit LCD screens. These use less energy than the cold florescent tubes.

Check the screen resolution. Not all HD TVs actually give full high definition (1080p) pictures. Old picture tube televisions had a resolution of 480 lines ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/480i) in a 4×3 square. New high definition TVs come in two flavors: 720 and 1080 pixels and both use a 16 x 9 rectangle. The lower 720p means you get 1280 x 720 pixels of resolution (compared with the old 480 lines standard). Full high definition resolution of 1080p gives a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. The higher the resolution, the better the overall picture quality and the higher the price.

Eh? A little louder, please. Some energy efficient televisions look great, but have under-powered sound systems. While you might have a great looking set, you might need to turn the volume all the way up to hear anything. Always remember to consider the audio specs.

And the Energy.gov winners are:

Small TVs (22, 24, and 27 inch diagonal screen measurement)

1 – Magnavox 22ME601B/F7 (LED) LCD 21.6 inch 29.922 kWh/year
2 – Insignia NS-24E730A12 (LED) LCD 23.6 inch 42.1 kWh/year
3 – Magnavox 26ME402V/F7 LCD 26 inch 39.835/year
4 – LG T27B350ND (LED) LCD 27 inch 72.22 kWh/year

Medium sized TVs (32, 37, 40, 42 inch diagonal screen measurement)

5 – Samsung H32B (LED) LCD 32 inch 50.67 kWh/year
6 – Panasonic TC-L37E3 (LED) LCD 37 inch 72.6 kWh/year
7 – Samsung UN40EH5300F (LED) LCD 40 inch 60.92 kWh/year
8 – LG 42LS56## (LED) LCD 42 inch 83 kWh/year

Large sized TVs (46, 50, 60 inch diagonal screen measurement)

9 – Samsung UN46EH5300F (LED) LCD 46 inch 77.34 kWh/year
10 – Samsung (UN50 model series, four models):
UN50EH5000F, UN50EH5050F, UN50EH5070F, UN50EH5300F (LED) LCD 50 inch 87.16 kWh/year

11 – Sharp (LC-60LE series, three models):
LC-60C8470U, LC-60LE845U, LC-60LE847U (LED) LCD 60 inch 104.51 kWh/year

12 – Sharp (AQUOS) (two LC-60 models):
LC-60C7450U, LC-60LE745U (LED) LCD 60 inch 110.34 kWh/year

This content is part of Bounce Energy and Blinds.com‘s Sizzlin Summer Campaign. Check out our previous posts for tips on:

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A native of Wyomissing Hills, PA, Vernon Trollinger studied writing and film at the University of Iowa, later earning his MA in writing there as well. Following a decade of digging in CRM archaeology, he now writes about green energy technology, home energy efficiency, DIY projects, the natural gas industry, and the electrical grid.


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