Flat-panel TV prices may plummet this holiday season, but don't overlook the energy costs, says the Electric Power Research Institute. The utility industry group found that LCD TVs use 75 percent more power—and plasma TVs a whopping three times more—than traditional cathode-ray tube sets.
Replacing an old TV with a plasma set would add $40 per year to the average annual household electric bill, while an LCD set's yearly energy premium would be $15 to $20. Not enough to break the bank, but utilities worry about the cumulative impact. The 23 million LCD units and the 3.9 million plasma sets expected to be sold this year in North America, according to DisplaySearch, could increase electricity demand by 5 million megawatt-hours—more than the output of all the power plants in Rhode Island.
Jim Palumbo, president of the Plasma Display Coalition, representing the top manufacturers, says the industry has reduced power consumption 30 percent in the past six years. He added that the industry is working with the Environmental Protection Agency on labeling—so consumers for the first time could figure electricity costs while TV shopping.