Well, I did it. I purchased a flat-screen LCD television. After weeks of research and too many encounters with salesmen at the big box stores, I gave in. Anyone who has tried to shop for these things can relate to what I am talking about. It is not easy to figure out the terminology and abbreviations attached to today’s TVs. There is also a bit of sticker shock. Gone are the days when you could pick up a TV for a couple hundred bucks and still feel like you are keeping up with the times. For those of you who have yet to purchase flat-screen TVs for your guestrooms, all I can say is, “I feel your pain.”
I read an estimate recently that about 18 percent of guestrooms in the U.S. lodging industry now have high-definition (HD) flat-panel displays. Expect that percentage to grow quickly. Today’s travelers, many of whom have HD TVs at home, expect the same on the road.
One of the biggest challenges for those interested in minimizing environmental impact is figuring out which TVs provide the best energy efficiency. The TV I purchased did have an Energy Star label but right now that does not mean very much. Why? The Environmental Protection Agency label applies only to the standby mode, when the TV is off. Go figure. Fortunately, effective November 1, 2008, the Energy Star label will also apply to TVs in the “on” mode. In fact, TVs that carry the Energy Star label then will be up to 30 percent more efficient than conventional models.
Other Ways to Save Energy
In addition to looking for the Energy Star label, here are some other factors to consider when making your TV buying decision. They WILL save you money.
• In general, LCD TVs use the least amount of energy. Plasma TVs use about 30 percent more electricity than the equivalent LCD. Old-fashioned CRT TVs, those still found in most hotels today, use about three times more energy than an LCD TV of similar size.
• Does an LCD TV always use less energy? Not necessarily. Size matters. Screen size can quickly overwhelm an LCD’s greater efficiency. For example, a 42-inch LCD television will use more energy than a 20-inch CRT.
• In standby mode, an HD TV will consume about 10 to 23 percent of the total power used by that TV. Especially in guestrooms not occupied for long periods of time, be sure to unplug those TVs. An easier way to disconnect the power is to use a power strip or some type of master switch. Train your housekeepers and engineers to check on this frequently.
• I suspect this is not the case in most guestrooms with HD TVs, but if surround speaker systems, DVD/DVR machines, game consoles, or other systems are added, any energy savings gained by an efficient TV is gone.
• Some vendors are introducing extra-efficient TVs that go beyond Energy Star standards. Be sure to ask questions about energy efficiency when comparing products and vendors. Seek out vendors with hospitality industry experience.
According to recent market research, U.S. shipments of TVs will top 36 million units in 2008. The energy needed to power those TVs will be huge. Think “green” when purchasing your next TVs. Don’t throw away your old CRT TVs. Recycle them. (See my column on electronics recycling.)
One more thing: For those burglar wannabes thinking about breaking in to steal my TV, you will be disappointed. The screen is only 10 inches wide, the reception is horrible, and it uses more energy than six refrigerators.
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As always, I can be reached at email@example.com.