Much is made on LED LCD TV’s Eco-friendliness. When it comes down to it, much of this is marketing hype.

But they do have some green cred, though you can make any TV greener. Tips, tricks, and myths after the jump.

Myth – An LED TV will save me money
Not likely. Thanks to the new Energy Guide labels on all HDTVs, you can see roughly how much a TV will cost you over the course of a year. LED LCD TVs typically draw less power than their plasma counterparts, but not as much less as you might expect.

For example, the Panasonic TC-P50GT30 50-inch plasma costs $21 a year to run, while the 55-inch Samsung UN55D7000 LED LCD costs $16. The Panasonic costs $1,300 less than the Samsung. So that means it will take 260 years before you start saving money.

Trick – Energy Guide labels are just a guide
If you adjust the settings on your TV, the Energy Guide numbers are out the window. On an LCD, if you increase the backlight, it will draw more power. On a plasma, if you increase the contrast control, it will draw more power.

Tip – Turn down the light
On the other side of the above Trick, if you turn down the backlight on an LCD, or turn down the contrast on a plasma, you can save some money. Every bit helps, as they say.

Myth – LCDs are greener than plasmas
Not necessarily. LED LCD TV do draw less power, and are likely the “greenest” TVs you can buy. A “regular” LCD, with its CCFL backlights, are arguably less green than plasmas. This is because all CCFLs contain mercury, which is bad if not disposed of properly.

Truth – DVRs are power hogs
Next to your refrigerator and TV, your DVR is likely the biggest power hog in your house. You can never truly shut them off (because without power they can’t do their job), so they’re always running. Also, because they’re built with cost as the only factor in design, they’re remarkably inefficient. TVs and refrigerators are becoming more efficient every year, and are held accountable thanks to Energy Star and Energy Guide. There’s no such rating for DVRs.

Trick – Band-aid your DVR power hunger with a timer
You can’t put a DVR on a power strip and just cut power to it. On the other hand, if you put it on a wall timer, you can shut it off in the middle of the night when you’re not using it. If you’re sure no show you want to record airs from, let’s say, 2:00 AM to 8:00 AM, powering it down during those hours will mean 25% less power the DVR draws per day. If you do this, know that it takes many minutes for these things to reboot (mine takes 10 minutes or more), and suddenly cutting power to electronics devices isn’t great for longevity. Also make sure the wall timer can handle the wattage draw from the DVR.

Tip – Blu-ray “fast” startup
The fast startup feature on many Blu-ray players may seem tempting, but it’s rarely worth it (no more than a few seconds faster) and it can draw a lot more power. With this feature disabled, the player may draw less than a watt when off, but perhaps upwards of 5 when this feature is on. That may not seem like much, but that’s 4 watts additional drawn all the time. Even if you use your player once a day, that’s 22 hours the player is drawing 5x the power. Every day, all year long. How much are those seconds worth to you? Literally, you can check your electric bill.

Truth – If you can turn it on with a remote, it’s not off
One of the fascinating truths about electronics products is if you can turn it on with a remote, it’s never truly off. Same with LED lights and so on. These power vampires just sit there drawing power. Maybe it’s only a few watts each, but they add up and do their power suckage over time. Like the DVR, you can’t put everything on a power strip and kill power to it. Some products lose their presets or memory if you cut power to them. It might be worth finding out which of your products don’t have a problem without power, and put those on a switchable circuit for when you’re not using them. It will probably save you a few dollars a month.

Truth – “Wall Warts” always draw power
Cell phone chargers, electric tooth brush rechargers, pretty much anything with a bulky wart on the wall is drawing power even when the product you’re charging/using isn’t plugged in. Putting these on a power strip is a great idea. Some newer products are coming with “switching” power supplies that only draw power when they’re being used (what a concept!). Hold your hand against the wall wart, if it’s warm, it’s definitely drawing power. Plug it into one of the products in the next tip to be sure.

KillawattTip – Watts Up/Kill A Watt
Plug one of these devices into a wall, then plug a product into them. They’ll tell you how much power it draws, and how much it will cost you. I have the Kill A Watt and it’s great. When I first bought it I ran around plugging everything in to see how much power it required. Everything except for my 11 year old fridge. I don’t want to know, cause I can’t afford a new one. Well, not the new one I want…

The Kill A Watt is $17.79 right now on Amazon. This model even has a timer for only a few dollars more. The Watts Up is $93.91. These will likely save you the money it cost to buy them over a very short period of time.


—Geoff Morrison
Follow me on Twitter @TechWriterGeoff

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