Ever wondered how energy efficient your television is?

Even Alan Pears, RMIT senior industry fellow, and self-proclaimed energy nerd, had to jump through hoops to find out.

I recently visited the topten.eu website, which provides information on the most energy efficient appliances in many categories, including ovens, induction cookers and many other products not covered by Australia’s appliance energy labelling scheme. This provides a useful complement to Australia’s energyrating.gov.au website.

For televisions, Topten gives two ratings, one for typical operation and a second for a High Dynamic Range operating mode offered by some TVs. HDR operates when on-line content increases image contrast, using metadata generated during video production. Display management circuitry interprets this to produce contrast ratio and colour rendering more realistic than the standard mode. This mode of operation can more than double power consumption.

This prompted me to look at Australia’s energyrating.gov.au website to compare TVs. In the ‘consumer’ section calculator, you can select screen size and other features to see the star rating labels of selected products. By selecting ‘Detail view’ you can access a bit more information, as shown. I would also like to see the average watts consumed by the product.

For TVs you can work this out by dividing the ‘1 year energy use’ by 3650 (ten hours daily operation over 365 days in a year, then multiplying by 1000 to convert from kilowatts to watts. In the example shown, average power consumption is 57 watts—not bad for a very big TV.

This led me to compare the range of products on the Australian market, which I hadn’t done for some time. To do this, you must go to the Tools item in the Industry Information tab. The database of all TVs energy rated can then be downloaded. It takes a nerd to work out how to interpret the data, but I fit that description. So I produced two graphs showing the star ratings of products on the market in late 2023 by screen size, star rating and average watts (consumption including standby power).

It’s clear that, all other things being equal, a bigger TV uses more power. But the best 150cm to 190cm TVs use less power than some 100cm TVs. Products with poor star ratings may use three to four times as much electricity as the highest rated products of the same size.

For example, an inefficient 1-star 190cm TV uses around 400 watts: It looks as though the government should urgently tighten the Mandatory Minimum Energy Standard for TVs! It should run a major promotional campaign informing consumers of how important it is to choose a TV with a high star rating, and to think about how big a TV they really need.

These graphs may include some products no longer on sale, but the energy saving benefit of buying an 8 or 9 star TV seems clear.

A longer version of this article was published first by Renew, Issue 167.

Alan Pears
Senior Industry Fellow, RMIT
April 29, 2024
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