Report: Ultra-High-Definition TVs Can Be Huge Energy Hogs

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While ultra-high-definition TVs produce lifelike vibrant pictures, a new report found that they may boost viewers' annual energy bills by 30 percent.

Ultra-high-definition TVs, which feature 8 million or more pixels, are hyped for adding more detail, extra depth and increased color resolution to your TV viewing experience. But better picture quality could come at a hefty price to consumers.

According to a new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council, UHD TVs use a whopping 30 percent more energy than high-definition TVs. If energy-savings improvements aren’t made to all models before Americans transition to watching their shows on UHD TVs – also known as 4K TVs – it could cost consumers an extra $1 billion annually in electricity to watch television.

“That energy waste could add up to an additional 8 Terawatt-hours of electricity a year nationally – enough to power all the homes in San Francisco for three years,” wrote senior scientist Noah Horowitz, director of NRDC’s energy program, in an NRDC blog.

The increased electricity use could also produce an additional 4.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year.

“The potential national energy impacts of the shift to 4K TVs are profound,” according to the report.

A number of factors contribute to the higher energy use of 4K TVs, including brighter backlights, the processing power needed to display videos and other functions.

Horowitz said that when it comes to energy usage, not all UHD TVs are created equal.

“We found an almost three-fold difference in energy consumption between the best and worst UHD TVs, with some models using little or no more energy than their HD predecessors, proving the technology already exists to cut needless energy waste in these large televisions,” Horowitz said.

Although the NRDC is encouraging policy changes that push for more energy efficient UHD TVs, Horowitz said getting TV manufacturers to commit to reducing their TVs’ energy consumption is key.

“To avoid an upsurge in television energy use and the related higher energy bills and power plant emissions that come from having to generate more electricity, we need TV manufacturers and their suppliers to continue to focus on improving the energy efficiency of their new TVs,” he explained.

If you already own a 4K TV, the NRDC offers these tips to reduce your TV’s energy usage:

  • Turn on automatic brightness controls.
  • Turn off the “quick start” booting feature on your TV.
  • Don’t use video game consoles to stream movies.

Do you have a 4K TV? What do you think of the NRDC’s report? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

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