A standard television alone is a relatively small energy user. A typical TV might be 120 watts and operate 4 hours a day, which equates to about 200 kWh annually. At $.10 per kWh, that's only about $20 dollars per year.

The big impact on the utility bills comes from there not being one standard TV on for a few hours. Increasingly, and driven by falling prices, people are buying much larger sets that use several times as many watts. Rear-projection sets can use two or three times as much electricity as conventional TVs, and plasma sets can be three to five times more energy intensive.

Additionally, they are being left on many more hours than most would think as people play games, watch movies and view the multitude of available channels. Add to that, sets are scattered throughout the house. In some areas, the average home has 4 televisions. So while TVs are individually small, collectively you may want to pay attention to how many of what type are on and for how many hours

Types of TVs

(Digital Light Processing) televisions, also known as Rear-projection sets, are the least expensive and largest of the big screen TVs. They've slimmed down quite a bit from the hulking boxes of the past. But they still offer the largest screens, running from 42 to 65 inches and up.

LCD Flat Panel (Liquid Crystal Diode)
TVs are slim, light-weight panels that now come in screen sizes from under 20 inches to more than 50. They are popular because they take up very little space and can be wall mounted. Improved black levels and wider viewing angles have alleviated some of the concerns people had with LCD technology when it was first introduced. An increasing number of LCD models are available with the highest 1080p resolution. For bright areas, LCD sets are good choices because reflections are minimal.

Plasma TVs are popular for their accurate colors, wide viewing angle, deep blacks and for having minimal blurring of fast motion. These characteristics make them top picks for sports and action movies. The familiar 42-inch screens are being joined more and more by 50 and 60-inch models. Some are available with the high resolution 1080p screens and more are expected. But these are the energy hogs of the TV world, some models use 3 to 5 times as much energy as a conventional television set.