Ask Eartha: Plasma Schmasma! Flatscreen TVs are huge energy hogs |

Ask Eartha: Plasma Schmasma! Flatscreen TVs are huge energy hogs

Q: My boyfriend wanted a plasma TV, so guess what I got for Christmas? A plasma TV. I’ve heard they use a lot of energy. Is this true?


It’s going to take a lot for your boyfriend to redeem himself after his seasonal and selfish spending spree. His first mistake was to buy you a present for himself, and his second mistake was to buy a flatscreen TV.

Flatscreen TV’s, especially plasma models, although capable of producing mind blowing images as you veg out after a day of skiing, are huge energy hogs. Few people realize the impact a flatscreen can have on their energy bills.

Believe it not your plasma TV is stealing more than your time and creativity; it’s also stealing your money. Flatscreen TVs can constitute up to 10 percent of your energy bill. To put this into perspective, according to the Wall Street Journal, a 42-inch plasma set can consume more electricity than a full-size refrigerator.

Plasma flatscreens generally use about three times that of a comparable cathode ray tube TV. An LCD flatscreen is a little better in that they use about 50 percent more than a comparable CRT TV. To make matters worse, the TV is only one part of the equation. A premium A/V system (with a stereo, video games and a TV) can eat up to $200 annually in electric bills.

An easy way to reduce your energy consumption is to avoid leaving your TV on stand-by. Leaving a TV on stand-by is essentially as bad as idling at the recycling drop-off center. Your TV will chew up power all day and all night. As we’ve mentioned in previous articles, reduce phantom loads by purchasing a power strip. Plug your TV into the power strip and turn it off when not in use. This will save energy and money.

The best way to take action against your power-hungry TV (and boyfriend) is to turn off the tube. Opt for low-impact leisurely activities at the end your work day. Check out a book from Eartha’s Library or our fantastic Summit County Libraries. Knit a sweater for your cat, talk to you plants, or make some homemade yogurt.

If your boyfriend isn’t keen on knitting for the cat or doing away with his new purchase, coach him on what to look for next time he buys “you” a present. For starters, he should look for Energy Star TV’s and appliances. These, however, still use a lot of energy; so you might buy an extra set of knitting needles and shoo him away from the TV at night.

If your flashy new TV was purchased as a replacement, remember to properly recycle your obsolete TV. Televisions contain between three to eight pounds of lead, and like most electronics, can contain a host of other toxic substances such as cadmium, mercury and arsenic. These toxic substances could contaminate groundwater when landfilled. The Summit County Resource Allocation Park accepts TVs for recycling and proper handling for a minimal fee. Call HC3 for details (668-5703).

Eartha Steward is written by Jennifer Santry and Erin Makowsky, consultants on all things eco and chic at the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation. Submit questions to Eartha at

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