Energy Adviser: Newer TVs use energy efficiently

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A 50-inch plasma TV used to suck 500 watts. Jon Fairhurst of Camas remembers the day. He works for Sharp Laboratories of America, and played a key role with the International Electrotechnical Commission in setting standards for measuring the energy efficiency of televisions in 2008.

“That changed everything,” Fairhurst said. “Now manufacturers are competing on low power usage. We’re likely to see new television technologies that are both beautiful and power-efficient.”

Even as TVs grow bigger and their images ever more vivid, no Energy Star TV uses more than 108 watts. Thanks to the Energy Forward initiative by the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, of which Clark Public Utilities is a member, manufacturers are striving for even greater energy efficiency.

If you look for the orange Energy Forward label when you go shopping for a TV, you’ll be sure you’re buying a model that not only has a great picture, but doesn’t waste energy. Energy Forward TVs use no more than 85 watts, which is why the label states: “Most efficient. Engineered to be the best of Energy Star.”

“Technology is getting better and better, and there are more options available all the time -- LED, LCD, plasma, 3-D,” said DuWayne Dunham, energy counselor for Clark Public Utilities. “Among TVs, there’s such a wide range of power consumption that the Energy Forward label is an indicator of the best of the best in terms of efficiency.”

The Energy Forward program was launched two years ago to stem energy waste by home electronics, the fastest-growing share of home power demand. The Northwest Power and Conservation Council expects the share to exceed 20 percent by 2030, double what it was in 2008.

Energy Forward offers retailers an incentive to stock more efficient models. Now you can find the super-efficient Energy Forward electronics at stores throughout the Pacific Northwest. (A complete list of participating retailers, as well as more information about the TVs that qualify for the Energy Forward label, is available at Most Efficient.

A 42-inch flat screen TV consumed 188 Watts before Energy Forward launched. Now a 42-inch flat-screen carrying the Energy Forward label TV consumes only 56 Watts. That adds up to hundreds of dollars over the life of the TV.

Market share grows

Energy Forward’s share of the market is growing. Two hundred models qualify for the certification. At the beginning of last year, these orange-label TVs accounted for 12 percent of televisions sold by participating retailers. At the end of 2011, the proportion reached 44 percent, said Becca Yates, a NEEA spokeswoman.

Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance estimates that since the initiative got under way in 2009, it has saved the Northwest approximately 13.7 average megawatts, enough to power 10,453 homes each year.

There’s even more room for savings. If all 12 million utility customers in Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington chose an Energy Forward television over a less-efficient model, the region could save enough electricity to power more than 290,000 homes each year, according to the alliance.

“We’re all moving fast, trying to balance affordability with efficiency and quality. Programs like Energy Forward make it easier,” Dunham said. “We like to help raise awareness of programs that make it easier for our customers to reduce waste at home by making good choices at the outset.”

Energy Adviser is produced by Clark Public Utilities and relies on the expertise of utility energy counselors and staff, who provide conservation and energy use information. To contact us, call 360-992-3355, email ecod@clarkpud.com or visit www.clarkpublicutilities.com.