The Greenest Way to Switch to Digital TV

Since the digital TV switchover, a lot of people have had to upgrade their TVs. Unfortunately, the technology is pretty discouraging. The first problem is the slender, sleek new TVs, which you’d assume would be more environmentally friendly than those bulky old boxes of the past. After all, dishwashers, washing machines, and toilets have all improved dramatically in the past 15 years.

Not the case with TVs. Both LCD and plasma models can burn a lot more electricity than the fat, squat CRT models because of the way they operate. But there are a couple more reasons why: We're going bigger, with screen areas of 40, 60, 70 inches, and more. And they suck up energy even while turned off. Any TV — or other electronic device that includes a clock and is manufactured to power up quickly when turned on — continues to consume electricity to keep its inner workings at the ready.

So the greenest choice? Keep the old set and get a conversion box. If you do end up replacing your TV, though, think about getting one with a 32-inch screen or less. And unplug it when you're not watching it. And don't send the old one to the landfill, find a new home for it.

ENERGY STAR identifies TV models that are at least 30-percent more efficient in standby and active mode. You can check out the ENERGY STAR Web site for that list.

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