In the market for a new television set?
Well, if you're watching your wallet, you may want to look for the Energy Star label, which is new on television sets as of May 1, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
That means they'll cost you 40% less to run year after year -- an important consideration, considering that the 275 million televisions in use in America account for a staggering 4% of all electricity consumption, and that many flat-screen televisions will cost you $200 a year just to plug them in (whether you actually watch anything or not, thanks to the phantom load).
If you're buying today, look to the Energy Star-compliant sets listed at EnergyStar.gov. (If you can hold off on your purchase, wait until May 1, 2012, when yet more stringent rules take effect, requiring Energy Star-rated televisions to be 65% more efficient than competitors.)
Anytime you're replacing a piece of electronics -- particularly a television set or computer -- make sure you recycle your old set. Recycling is important because television sets include toxic metals and potentially hazardous plastics that could pollute water or air if landfilled or incinerated. Recycling in general, of course, conserves resources since raw materials aren't mined or processed for a new set. The good news is that it's quite a bit easier than it was two years ago to recycle that old set, according to the Electronics Takeback Coalition's 2009 TV Companies Report Card. The report card rates brands on their consumer recycling programs:
The report card noted that consumers in states with takeback or other e-waste laws have much greater access to recycling opportunities than those in states without such laws. Meanwhile, the problem of e-waste being dumped in third-world countries by companies claiming to recycle the toxic trash continues. The Environmental Protection Agency, though, appears to be taking some steps to improve the situation.
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