A reader, concerned about a potential rise in her electricity bill, wrote to me the other day with some questions about her new, larger TV and its energy usage. The distractions of snow days and the long Presidents Day weekend delayed my response, but what I found out was interesting. A larger TV screen will cost you more money, but not that much more.
Sandra said that she bought a 32-inch Insignia high definition television that has an Energy Star rating of 150 watts to replace her 5-year-old 20-inch Magnavox Energy Star tube TV. She didn't know the wattage of her old set, but she wondered how much this larger, newer TV would affect her electricity bill.
I'm not an expert on these things, but I consulted with my husband, who is more of an appliance geek than I am. He was more than happy to impress me with his know-how.
Is It LCD or Plasma?
Regarding your HDTV, a lot depends on whether it has an LCD (liquid crystal display) screen or a Plasma screen. Plasma sets typically use almost twice the amount of electricity as LCD sets. So, when you go to buy a new set, it's important to ask whether its LCD or Plasma. Based on my reader's description of her set's power usage, and for the sake of analysis, I assumed it was the LCD variety.
We all know that luxuries cost money, and the bad news is that a bigger set is going to consume more energy and cost more to operate. To my surprise, screen size is still the biggest determinant of energy use in the TV world and replacing a 20-inch screen with a 32-inch screen, like my reader did, is going to cost more--but how much more?
Not a Huge Cost Difference
The good news is that it's probably not going to amount to a lot of money.
We're still using our old 25-inch Zenith tube TV, and its is 80 watts. A 20 inch TV like Sandra had probably used less energy--let's say around 75 watts. If she watched that set for an average of five hours a day, less time than the average U.S. household watches TV, believe it or not, it would cost her about 6 cents per day.
A new 32-inch set like Sandra purchased that is fully rated at 150 watts will probably cost her about 12 cents per day to operate, assuming she has it on the same 5 hours each day.
That's double the cost, but still not that much money. It translates into roughly $1.80 each month for the set with the 20-inch screen versus about $3.60 for a 32-inch screen. Also, that 150-watt rating on Sandra's new 32-inch screen may be a little on the high side because manufacturers tend to build a safety margin into their hardware.
So if you really want to save some money while you're sitting in front of the tube, buy a smaller screen. You might also want to turn down the brightness. That's what the energy saving mode on your TV does. For this tip and other interesting information on HDTVs see the article on this CNET site. Happy viewing!