Energy Efficiency Trumps 3D When Buying LED TVs
So why are manufacturers are not touting low-power features?
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July 18, 2011 by Steven Castle

We’ve been hearing a lot about 3D TV. TV manufacturers are putting 3D capability into more and more TV sets, including LED-backlit LCD TVs. But according to research firm DisplaySearch, consumers are more interested in energy efficiency when buying LED TVs.

Paul Gray, DisplaySearch Director of TV Electronics Research, noted that in DisplaySearch’s Global TV Replacement Study, “When compared to 3D, the survey revealed far heavier consideration for energy consumption than 3D.”

“Consumers are attuned to fuel consumption in cars, and our Global TV Replacement Study showed they are equally mindful of electricity usage when choosing a TV,” says Gray. “The benefits are clear, and it is surprising that TV set makers do not market this advantage.”

DisplaySearch investigated whether the cost savings from lower energy consumption outweigh the increased purchase price of LED-backlit LCD TVs. In comparing CCFL (fluorescent) and LED-backlit 40-inch LCD TVs, LED-backlit sets were found to have lower life-cycle costs. The payback time for an entry-level LED-backlit TV is under four years in California, and under two years in Europe.

Both Energy Star-certified and basic configurations of LED TVs were used in the study,  under reasonable lifetime assumptions, says DisplaySearch. The analysis is part of the DisplaySearch’s Quarterly TV Design and Features Report.

Why Not Tout Efficiency?

TVs have become much more energy efficient in the past few years, thanks in large part to stricter Energy Star standards. Regardless, TV makers deserve some kudos for making TVs more efficient. So it has puzzled this correspondent as to why manufacturers don’t aggressively market the low power used by LED-backlit TVs and other efficient models. I have wondered if it is the simple dynamics of buying a TV and encountering a bank of displays at the local big box store, then having to compare a host of features like screen size, resolution, connections, streaming capabilities and the like. Energy consumption can easily get lost amid all those other considerations, even with an energy geek like me.

This should change as more EnergyGuide labels appear on newly manufactured TVs. And perhaps manufacturers believe having an Energy Star designation that signifies lower energy consumption is enough to market a TV as energy-efficient.

However, representatives from both Sharp and Panasonic told me a couple of years ago that they recognized that energy consumption was one of the top features that TV buyers sought. So it is puzzling as to why manufacturers in general still don’t tout the energy efficiency of their most efficient TVs.

Is is fear of being labeled as greenwashers, who overstate a product’s eco-friendliness? That can happen. Is it a perception that most consumers just don’t care that strongly about energy efficiency? Is energy efficiency that hard to articulate? Is it too boring for a marketing campaign? Or could it be that TV manufacturers are really more interested in selling us on 3D?

What do you think?

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Steven Castle - Contributing Writer
Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates.

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