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Nov 042008

By John DeFore
Green Right Now

Economic turmoil has convinced many Americans to put off large discretionary purchases, but those intent on upgrading the home theater this holiday season (or those finally replacing ancient TVs before next year’s digital switchover) should consider changes made in the marketplace this weekend.

On November 1, new standards by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program took effect. “Turning the channel on energy guzzling sets,” to use the colorful imagery of EPA’s Stephen L. Johnson, the new specs apply to models that are up to 30 percent more energy efficient than conventional TVs.

According to the agency, if all the nation’s TVs met the new standards, America would realize about $1 billion in energy savings — the greenhouse gas equivalent of taking a million cars off the road.

Some manufacturers complain that the new standards don’t account for the wide variations in current TV technology, essentially throwing new big-screen plasmas and LCDs into the same arena as Jurassic-vintage picture-tube displays. But it’s hard to argue that they aren’t at least a step in the right direction: The previous guidelines didn’t even measure the electricity a TV used when it was in use; they focused exclusively on power drained during “standby” mode, as this story explains.

The story goes on to show how even the same model can use far more or less energy depending on its picture settings, and to reference an extensive chart comparing the power consumption of over 100 high-def TVs. Keep that guide handy as a supplement to the EPA’s own buying guide, which lists about 250 Energy Star-qualified models from over a dozen brands.

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