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Jan 27, 2009

True confession: I love sports. And I especially love watching big games on even bigger TVs.

Super Bowl Sunday is this weekend, and I--along with millions of other Americans--will be watching the game. But my enthusiasm for seeking out a nice plasma TV on which to view the game has lessened this year: The big-screen behemoths will likely be banned across Europe this year because they use too much energy.

Traditional cathode ray tube (CRT) televisions consume energy, to be sure, but nothing on the scale of plasma TVs. Reports Britain's The Independent: "A big plasma model could use four times as much electricity and be responsible for the emission of four times as much carbon dioxide as the biggest CRT; they now account for twice as much as a fridge-freezer."

Their contribution to global warming is so bad that the European Union is planning to ban the worst offenders by setting minimum energy performance standards for all televisions sold in the E.U. They also are planning to start a compulsory labeling system that indicates the energy usage of each model, giving consumers the ability to easily determine the energy efficiency of a television when shopping around.

California is going a step farther. The California Energy Commission recently drafted regulations that would ban the sale of energy-guzzling TVs in a phased format from 2011 to 2013. And the reasons why--according to the L.A. Times--are scary:

During a peak viewing time when most sets are on, such as the Super Bowl, TVs in the state collectively suck up the equivalent of 40% of the power generated by the San Onofre nuclear power station running at full capacity. Televisions account for about 10% of the average Californian's monthly household electricity bill.

If the 10 percent figure doesn't scare you enough, consider this stat from The Independent: "In the U.S., 275 million televisions gobble up as much electricity as is produced by 10 coal-fired power stations." Now that's a contribution to global warming.

It's especially important to think about the energy efficiency of plasma TVs around event like the Super Bowl; the game is second only to the holiday season as the biggest driver for consumer interest in big-screen TVs. Indeed, according to stats from the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association, a whopping 2.6 million consumers--that's 2.7 percent of adults in the U.S.--will purchase a new television on which to watch the Super Bowl. While it's down from the 3.9 million last year, that's still a lot of expensive televisions to be sold in such economic times.

And it means that those energy regulations can't come fast enough for the environment. If you're responsible for purchasing any of the 33 million flat-screen TV sets anticipated to be sold this year, I urge you to consider the environmental impact of its energy use. Many LCD models use much less energy than their plasma cousins, without much difference in picture quality.

I know I'll be seeking out an energy efficient model as I cheer on the Arizona Cardinals this weekend. Will you?

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Posted: Jan 27, 2009 9:16am


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LiAnna D.
, 1
San Francisco, CA, USA
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