HG: SustainAbility Column January 10, 2009

The countdown to digital television broadcasting on Feb. 17 is a little hard to miss unless you’ve evolved beyond TV. What is the most sustainable way to adapt to the change?

The vast majority of us don’t need to do a single thing to continue receiving TV signals because cable and satellite services will handle any necessary changes. No need to rush out and buy a television, and sticking with your old television will have the least impact on the environment.

Even if you have an older set and use an antenna to watch TV, an inexpensive converter box will allow you to continue to receive over-the-air signals.

There is now a waiting list for the $40 coupons toward converter boxes, but you can get more details at dtv2009.gov. Converter boxes with Energy Star certification are available locally.

Those of you really needing a new TV, or using the switch as an excuse to buy a new TV, can still make wise choices.

Stay away from plasma TVs, which gobble energy. They draw more power than most refrigerators.

If you don’t need a humongous TV, look for liquid crystal display (LCD) TVs. When you start looking at larger varieties, many rear-projection models are more efficient. Whatever type you choose, the bigger the screen, the more energy it uses.

According to research by CNET.com on flat-screen televisions, your best bet for efficiency is an LCD model less than 42 inches. For more information, go to reviews.cnet.com/tv-power-consumption.

Energy Star ratings are also a good guide to determine energy efficiency. Televisions recently went from being rated only in stand-by mode to include active mode, as well.

Models that make the grade for Energy Star certification use up to 30 percent less energy than comparable models.

There are some other factors to consider when looking at buying a TV from a sustainable perspective. Hazardous materials are used inside even flat-screen TVs, and some companies make more of an effort to reduce or eliminate toxicity and take back their products for proper recycling.

Samsung and Sony did well in those categories according to Greenpeace’s “Guide to Greener Electronics.” 

Televisions by Samsung, Sony and other brands with Energy Star status are readily available at electronic and discount stores in the Grand Valley.

Once you have your new LCD set at home, make sure the backlighting is set to a medium level for home use to save energy and extend the life of your TV.

Proper disposal of your old television is essential to ensure a green transition.

When you buy the TV, ask what options for recycling are available from the store. There are several possibilities for recycling televisions in Mesa County.

In conjunction with Sony and LG (Goldstar, Zenith), Waste Management has a free take-back program for those products and will accept other brands for a fee. Call 243-4345 for more information.

For 42 cents per pound, old televisions can be taken to the Hazardous Waste Collection Facility adjacent to the landfill for recycling from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

Another option is to take the TV to GJ CRI, 333 West Ave., Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The joint effort between GJ CRI and LifeSpan charges $1.25 per inch to recycle televisions.


Adele Israel is a Grand Junction writer who has been involved in sustainability efforts for some 20 years. Have a question or column idea for Adele? E-mail her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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