Flat-screen televisions are a major upgrade from existing cathode-ray tube TVs, making new high-definition sets one of the hottest-selling items in consumer electronics. But that dazzling picture and bigger screen come with a price: higher energy use.
To individual consumers, a bigger flat-screen TV might mean a noticeable bump in monthly electric bills. But at a national level, the onrush of these new energy-hungry TVs is a growing concern.
On Friday, the California Energy Commission finalized a proposal to regulate energy consumption in TVs sold in California sold after 2011.
The move is significant because California's stringent efficiency standards in appliances have impacted codes across the country in the past. California's efficiency measures in big appliances, such as refrigerators, have been credited with keeping the per capita electricity consumption in the state steady since the 1970s.
But not everyone is happy with the California measure, which is expected to pass in November. Industry association the Consumer Electronics Association opposes the proposal, arguing that any efficiency improvements should come from consumer demand rather than regulation.
To unwind some of the issues around energy efficiency and TVs, we offer this FAQ, which draws on the analysis of CNET Reviews' senior editor David Katzmaier, who has been measuring power consumption in TVs for the past three years. You can see the latest data at CNET's Energy Efficiency Guide and power ratings of 150 HDTVs.
If I buy a new flat-screen TV, will I be slapped with a huge energy bill? Not necessarily. The primary reason flat-screen TVs consume more power is because they are bigger. The California Energy Commission estimates that per square inch, LCDs consume a bit more than CRTs, but most people are also upgrading in size, which means significantly more electricity use. That's one reason why TV product ratings from the likes of CNET and Consumer Reports now include yearly energy consumption estimates. … Read more