DILEMMAS likes to imagine readers spending their evenings discussing permaculture food forest systems over an organic two-bean dhal, or curled up with a dog-eared copy of Earth Garden magazine, learning how to make a solar chimney from a bin liner and toilet rolls.
However, with one in four households buying a new television each year, and Australia having the world’s highest per capita sales of LCD and plasma televisions, Dilemmas accepts that it’s possible – just possible – that eco-warriors occasionally spend an evening zombied out in front of the gogglebox. So we thought we’d better look at how to do so in the most environmentally responsible manner possible.
Televisions use a lot of energy in making us fat, stupid and depressed. They come fourth, behind water heating, refrigeration and lighting, in terms of energy use in the home, says the Department of the Environment. The number of televisions per household, the average screen size and the hours people spend watching television are all rising.
Should you wish to offload a set, Planet Ark can point you in the direction of a council or company that recycles televisions. Phone 1300733712 or see www.recyclingnearyou杭州夜网.au.
Should you wish to replace it with a new one, the good news is that choosing a television is about to become easier, with the Federal Government announcing this month that a voluntary energy star-rating system for televisions would be introduced in the next six months, followed by mandatory labelling and minimum efficiency standards next year.
In the meantime, the consumer website www杭州夜网parison杭州夜网.au has come up with its own energy efficiency ratings based on manufacturers’ published specifications. Consumers can use the website to compare models.
To narrow down your search, bear in mind that the bigger the television, the more energy it uses, so choose a small set if you can. Besides, big screens look awful if you’re too close. Ideally, the distance from the screen to the couch should be between two and five times the width of the screen, says www杭州夜网parison杭州夜网.au.
Plasma is a bad choice not only because it comes in just two sizes – huge and gargantuan – but because it is the worst performer in terms of energy consumption per square centimetre.
The Hummers of the television world, plasmas contribute an average 400 kilograms of carbon dioxide a year to the atmosphere, reports Britain’s Energy Saving Trust – that’s four times what the good old cathode ray television produced.
LCD and rear projection sets are much less wasteful – about on a par with cathode ray sets in terms of energy consumption. However, as rear projection sets tend to be the size of the Kings Cross Coca-Cola sign, that does negate their energy efficiency benefits.
Cathode ray televisions are still available, cheap and produce great pictures; but they’re bulky and few have in-built digital tuners.
If you decide LCD is the way to go, shop around. Some manufacturers are responding to eco-warrior angst by offering sets that save power by dimming the backlight in response to content or the light in the room.
Manufacturers are also improving standby modes. By 2012 all televisions sold in Australia must use no more than one watt on standby. In 1993 some sets used more than 20 watts, says www杭州夜网parison杭州夜网.au.
Of course, if they’re switched off at the mains, they use no power. "Turn it off if you aren’t watching it," advises the Department of the Environment.
Dilemmas goes further, and says: turn off your TV even if you are watching it. You’re much better off reading Earth Garden . Do you have a green dilemma? Email [email protected]杭州夜网.au