No, this is not an announcement of a major recall. The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) commissioned a study of energy use by flat panel HDTVs, covering 13″ to 65″ LCDs and 42″ to 65″ plasma sets. According to a press release, the results indicate that power consumption of LCD sets when in use dropped 63% from 2003 to 2010. Standby power use for LCDs dropped 87% from 2004 to 2010. Plasma posted impressive gains as well, dropping 41% of active power and 85% of standby power use from 2008 to 2010.
Some of the gains for LCD sets can be attributed to the growing use of LEDs as backlights instead of the traditional fluorescent tubes. Plasma technology has improved so that more ultraviolet light is produced in each cell, resulting in more light for less power.
Now, you need to consider the source when looking at these results. The CEA is an unabashed cheerleader for the manufacturers, so it would be a surprise if the report didn’t paint a favorable picture. For example, the press release states that “the power consumption of the average TV sold in 2010 consumes less energy than a 100 watt incandescent light bulb and less power than what is needed to light a typical living room.” Now, that may seem impressive if you’re thinking about a 42″ HDTV, but I suspect that the “average TV sold in 2010” was somewhat smaller than that, and the 100 watt draw would seem reasonable for something like a 32″ set. I also did not see an explanation for why the LCD figures started with 2004, but the plasma figures didn’t start until 2008. If you want to check out the report for yourself, here’s the link: http://www.ce.org/PDF/PowerConsumptionTrends.pdf.
Even considering the source, however, it’s clear that great strides have been made to cut down the energy consumption of flat panel HDTVs. And no matter how you slice it, that’s a good thing.