Your Plasma TV Is Costing You More Moola

The smart folks at Cnet.com measured power usage by all those fancy new flat screen TV's and found some unsettling news, they suck up the power. Now of course this doesn't mean you should toss your favorite gadget in the house.

Cnet assembled these smart tips on how to conserve power while keeping your home technologically advanced...

Turn the TV off when it's not being used
Sure, this one's obvious, but it's easy to get into the habit of leaving the TV on as "background" when you're not really watching it. And while TVs still consume power in standby mode, it's a tiny fraction of what they draw when they're actually on. Old habits die hard, but you'll be saving yourself some bucks if you remember this tip.

Turn down the LCD's backlight
Many LCDs give you the ability to control the intensity of the backlight in the TV. By turning down the backlight, you'll lower power consumption, but also make the TV less bright. While retail stores love to turn the backlights up all the way for their displays, we find that we get the best image quality when we turn down the backlight significantly--sometimes even all the way off.

Turn on the power-saver mode
Many TVs these days come with a power-saver mode that's designed to cut down the power consumption. Performance of this mode varies from model to model, with the effect sometimes being drastic and other times providing only a slight savings. The only downside is that the power-saver mode usually makes the TV less bright, but we've found that sometimes this has a beneficial effect on the image quality, especially with the room lights turned off, in which case it's a win-win situation.

Reduce light output with other settings
Many people buy a TV, turn it on, and never think to change the picture settings. Not only is that bad for the picture quality, it's bad for power consumption. Most TVs are very bright by default, and that leads to using more juice. One of the first things a professional calibrator will usually do is turn down the light output--which is traditionally controlled primarily by "contrast" or "picture" controls--along with several other adjustments that will maximize the performance of your TV.

So what if you want some of the benefits of a calibration but don't want to pay the dough? Don't worry, CNET has you covered. All of our recent TV reviews are published with the settings our reviewers found appropriate for a completely darkened room--you can access them by clicking on "Tips & Tricks" at the top of a TV review (here's an example of what they look like). Of course these settings aren't optimized for your specific home theater equipment as a professional calibration would be, but they come closer than the default settings for most people.

How much savings can you get by reducing light output? The Imaging Science Foundation, an organization that provides professional calibration services, estimates that their calibrations can save 30 to 50 percent of your set's current energy consumption. On the Panasonic TH-58PX600U that we tested before and after our own calibration, we found the power consumption drop from 442 watts pre-calibration to 318 watts afterward, a 28 percent drop.

Control room lighting
Many of these tips are going to make the TV less bright, but that can be compensated by controlling the light in your home theater room. While this may be a little overboard just for power consumption, limiting the light in your home theater also goes a long way toward creating the "theater" experience, as well as getting the most out of your TV.

And beyond TV concerns, good-quality blackout shades offer thermal benefits that keep other energy costs low; they keep heat in during the winter and keep it out during the summer.

Buy a smaller screen
If you're looking to buy a new TV, you can limit your power consumption by buying a smaller set. This doesn't always exactly hold--for example, rear-projection sets are often larger and draw less power than plasma TVs--but once you pick your display technology, going smaller will almost always use less juice. As always, you can compensate for smaller screen size, to a point, by sitting closer to the screen. Check out our rough screen size vs. seating distance guidelines for more info.

Watch TV together
Having multiple TVs in a house is more of a norm than a luxury these days, but that also means your power consumption is going to increase as well. You can cut that power consumption by watching with your family or housemates. You might need to make a few compromises on what you watch, but sometimes it's more fun to watch with friends and family.

Watch less TV
Instead of sitting down for another dose of reality TV, you could opt for reality instead. Not only might you get some exercise, but you'll be cutting your energy bill.

No comments:

Post a Comment