Table of Contents
- Very Small TVs (under 30-inches)
- Small Screens (30-39 inches)
- Medium-sized Screens (40-50 inches)
- Medium-Large TVs (50-60 inches)
- Large TVs (60-69 inches)
- Giant TVs (over 70 inches)
- Special Mentions
- The most energy efficient and eco-friendly TVs made by big brands
- Ideas for green TV use
- Does the TV contain toxic chemicals or conflict minerals?
- Is it an LCD TV?
- Was the TV produced using nitrogen trifluoride (NF3)?
- Does the TV have a presence sensor?
- Is there a digital version of the manual?
- Is it a rear-projection LED or OLED TV?
- Is there a takeback program?
- Is your TV made of recycled materials?
- How big of a TV do you really need?
- Is the company ethical?
- Ways to make your existing TV more energy efficient
Next time you’re watching the latest David Attenborough documentary about climate change, you might want to consider the eco-friendliness of your flat screen. An eco-friendly TV? Isn’t that an oxymoron? Not quite.
In the last decade, many companies have embraced the idea of the ‘green screen’ and shaken up their TV designs. This means more eco-friendly packaging, conflict-free sourcing of raw materials, improved energy efficiency, and greater recycling potential. And, because there have been such improvements in design and energy efficiency, it’s now perfectly feasible to run an LED TV off-grid using a 50% smaller solar panel set-up!
All that said, there’s a heck of a lot of greenwashing when it comes to TVs. I’ve dug into the sustainability reports, specifications, and labelling, and talked to representatives from various electronics companies to get the dirt on so-called eco-TVs.
Below, you’ll find our rankings for the best eco-friendly TVs. We believe every model on this list is a better buy than most TVs out there.
Note that the best choice for your situation might not be the model we ranked the highest, so pay attention to the differentiating features between them instead of taking our rankings at face value. For convenience, we’ve grouped the TVs by size, rather than in ranked order.
Very Small TVs (under 30-inches)
Highlights: The most energy-efficient TV around! Lightweight and portable, this TV is perfect for moving between the living room, bedroom, and the home office as an all-in-one monitor.
|Annual energy use||19.6 kWh|
|Highlights||Lightweight and portable (weighs just 3.13 lbs.!)|
|Cons||No automatic brightness control|
At just 18 inches, the Sceptre E185BV-S LED TV is the most energy efficient Energy Star rated TV around. It consumes just 19.6 kWh per year, costing around $2.25 to run, depending on your energy tariff. There’s no automatic brightness control, but the backlit LED screen offers HD resolution and a range of power-reduction settings.
As a plus, the portability of this TV (it’s only 3.13 lbs.!) means you can easily move it from your living room to your home office for use as a computer monitor. So, no need to buy two screens and additional electronics when working or studying from home – that’s pretty eco-friendly!
Small Screens (30-39 inches)
Highlights: A great energy-efficient choice for RVs, off-grid living, and every home concerned about saving power, from a company that is eco-minded. Our top pick for an eco-friendly TV for 2020.
|Annual energy use||64.34 kWh/yr|
|Highlights||Operates in extreme conditions|
|Cons||Not a Smart TV|
At 39 inches, 720p, and using 64.34 kWh/yr, the Furrion FEHS39L6A is a great choice for RVs, off-grid living, and every home. This Energy Star rated HD LED RV TV has VibrationSmart technologies, so you don’t need to worry about your TV while driving around. It also has ClimateSmart technologies, so it isn’t fazed by extreme temperatures on the road.
The Furrion includes additional LED strips for extra brightness, is equipped with 5 sound modes, including Dolby Digital Decoder & Surround System, and is durable and reliable. There are 3 HDMI inputs, a VGA input, Composite AV input, Antenna (RF) input, USB input, PC Audio Input, Audio LR output, 3.5 mm Headphone output and Optical Audio Output. There’s also a Child Lock, Smartlink (HDMI CEC), Auto Tuning, Favorite Channel Programming, an On/Off Timer (which helps save energy), and it’s multilingual supporting English, Spanish, and French.
Furrion is a well-known name in RV and off-grid electronics, making refrigerators and other essential items for life on the road, in the woods, or wherever you’re watching your energy consumption carefully.
Furrion engages in carbon offsetting and other environmental initiatives to minimize their impact, in addition to making renewable energy products such as solar panels designed to support off-grid living. They have publicly stated an intention to achieve net positive carbon emissions across manufacturing and product lines, and zero waste across operations worldwide by 2022/23. To achieve this goal, the company built a solar array in 2016 to fully power its US headquarters. They plan to expand their infrastructure to solar farms, off-grid housing and smart city ecosystems.
Since 2013, Furrion has partnered with Trees for the Future® to enable 100,000 trees to be planted. They also pledged support to non-profit The Ocean Cleanup® in 2017 to support efforts to get rid of plastic waste in the ocean.
If you’re looking for a 12V RV TV, check out the Furrion Sense 32-inch RV TV (View Price on Furrion), and if you’re just looking for a regular 32-inch TV suitable for an RV but that works on 120 V (60 Hz), Furrion also has you covered (this one uses just 51.8 kWh/yr) (View Price on Furrion).
Highlights: The second-most energy-efficient TV for 2020! (The first isn’t available in the US.)
|Annual energy use||58.8 kWh/yr|
|Highlights||Great customer reviews!|
|Cons||Not a Smart TV|
In the 30-39-inch range, one of your best options is the well-regarded Sansui SF4019N18 at 39.5 inches, 1080p, and 58.8 kWh/yr. The Sansui is a super slim LED TV with great picture quality, an impressive brightness range (meaning you definitely have scope to save power, depending on use), and 2 x 10W speakers. There are AV in, YUV, VGA, USB, and 3 HDMI ports as well as PC Audio In, Earphone, Coaxial, and Audio Out.
However, this isn’t the most energy efficient TV for 2020. That award goes to the 32-inch Xiaomi MI L32M5-5ARU, using just 29 kWh annually. This TV has 720p, Dolby and DTS, a 64-bit backlit quad core processor, and a large number of ports, making it a great choice for a gamer looking for a bigger screen. Unfortunately, Xiaomi MI products don’t seem to be readily available outside of Singapore. If you find a US stockist, please let me know!
Medium-sized Screens (40-50 inches)
Highlights: Offers the same quality build as the smaller Furrion models at an affordable price.
|Annual energy use||Not available but likely to be 30% lower than most similarly sized TVs|
|Highlights||Dynamic brightness settings and integrated Dolby Digital|
|Warranty||1 year (Furrion’s standard warranty)|
Once again, Furrion come top in class for an eco-friendly TV, this time for their 43-inch LED HD RV TV, offering 1080p. With the same quality build as the smaller Furrion models, this one currently retails at below $180, making it an affordable choice for a quality TV.
The Furrion has dynamic brightness settings, integrated Dolby Digital, with 2 built-in speakers and 5 sound modes. It has Furrion’s famous ClimateSmart & VibrationSmart, meaning the TV is built to cope with extreme temperatures and humidity as well as to resist or withstand vibration on the road.
This model has multiple connection points including 3 HDMI inputs, a USB Port, VGA, PC Audio, Component Video Input, AV Input, and more. It also comes with Furrion’s 1-year warranty, which can usually be extended if you purchase using a credit card.
As above, Furrion are also a great choice as the company is engaged in a raft of eco-minded activities and business practices.
The most energy efficient in this class is the Sceptre H40, which uses 63.4 kWh/yr, measures 40 inches, and offers 1080p. (View Price on Walmart).
The Silo SL4020V1 is another energy efficient choice, measuring 40 inches, offering 1080p, and using 63.5 kWh/yr. (View Price on Fry’s).
The Sansui S40P28FN is almost as energy efficient as the Sceptre, using 64 kWh/yr, measuring 40 inches, and providing 1080p. It also has a lot of happy customers! (View Price on Amazon).
Other energy efficient choices include the Sceptre – H43, at 42.5 Inches, 1080p, using 64.6 kWh/yr (View Price on Walmart) and the Sceptre H50, measuring 49.5 Inches, 1080p, and using 94.3 kWh/yr (View Price on Amazon).
There is also a small chance that the (significantly more expensive) Sony X800 series TVs, and the Sony X900E 49-inch TV, are a bit more eco-friendly in construction than most TVs (see Sony above). These have now been upgraded to newer models that aren’t listed as SORPLAS models, and I’m still waiting to hear from Sony as to the status of SORPLAS. So, if you want to gamble on eco-friendliness, go for the newer model, or see if you can track down an original 2017 Sony X800 series:
43-inch – 95 kWh/yr / newer model, the 2020 Sony X800H 43-inch TV with Alexa, using 129 kWh/yr (View Price on Amazon).
49-inch – 124 kWh/yr / newer model, the 2020 Sony X800H 49-inch TV with Alexa, using 154 kWh/yr (View Price on Amazon).
55-inch – 123 kWh/yr / newer model, the 2020 Sony X800H 55-inch with Alexa, using 161 kWh/yr (View Price on Amazon).
Medium-Large TVs (50-60 inches)
The only 50-60-inch Energy Star rated TV to use less than 100 kWh/yr is the MI L55M5-5ARU (uses 92 kWh/yr) and this doesn’t seem to be available in North America. The next closest model listed at Energy Star is the Sansui LE-50F2 which uses 136 kWh/yr – a substantial difference, especially considering that the Sansui is only 50 inches and the MI is 55 inches.
Again, the updated version of the Sony 55-inch X800 series TV, the X800H, using 161 kWh/yr (View Price on Amazon) may be a decent option as there’s a slight chance it’s built with some recycled plastic (see my comments on Sony and SORPLAS above). The same goes for the 2020 X900H LED 4K Ultra HD, High Dynamic Range (HDR), Smart TV (Android TV™), which is available in 55-inch and uses 170 kWh/yr (View Price on Amazon).
My top choice in this size range, though, is LG.
The new LG NanoCell 85 Series 2020 offers a 55-inch 4K Smart UHD NanoCell TV with AI ThinQ® (View Price on Amazon) that uses 135 kWh/yr. While this sounds good, and LG make a bunch of promises over the eco-friendliness of their TVs, I’m somewhat suspicious of the use of nano-technology as it affects recyclability of components. It would be great if LG could address concerns over nanotechnology.
The other option is the LG 55E9 55-inch E9 OLED 4K TV (View Price on Amazon). This won a Sustainability and Eco-design award at the January 2019 Consumer Electronic Show (CES), largely because the model is “…made of eco-friendly and recyclable materials including natural glass.” It does, however, use 212 kWh/yr. This model is compatible with both Google Assistant and Alexa and boasts 4 HDMI inputs, 2 USB inputs, Bluetooth Support Version – 5.0, and Wi-Fi Standard – Wi-Fi Certified 802.11ac.
The company was the first to achieve Green Guard certification for low emissions from a TV, back in 2014, for their 55-inch Curved OLEG LG 55EC9300 TV (View Price on Amazon). This model offers 1080p, and has a wealth of inputs: 2 HDMI, 1 USB, 1 RF, 1 Composite, Component Shared w/ Composite, 1 Ethernet, 1 Optical. It is also a Smart TV, but it isn’t compatible with Alexa or other voice assist software.
Large TVs (60-69 inches)
The NEC E657Q is a 65-inch 4K ultra-HD TV boasting 2160p, automatic brightness control, and LED backlighting. This model has an annual energy consumption of 141.1 kWh, uses 0.5 watts when on standby, and has an occupancy sensor, user adjustable backlight, a high dynamic range with localized dimming, and automatic brightness control, making it very energy efficient.
Described as a great model for corporate and educational use, this high spec model might be a bit overkill for home use. The main downsides are that it still uses quite a lot of energy and is not compatible with wireless technology. It does have built-in NTSC/ATSC analog/digital tuner, though, allowing for high-definition broadcast capabilities.
Again, Sony may make a somewhat eco-friendly 65-inch TV as part of their X900E series, but it remains to be seen if this model actually features recycled plastic content. Sony claim the 65-inch X900E uses 173 kWh/yr, while the newer 2020 X900H model uses 210 kWh/yr (View Price on Amazon).
Giant TVs (over 70 inches)
Realistically, once you get into giant TV screen territory, there are no eco-friendly options. Everything uses more energy than the average family refrigerator and a huge amount of energy and materials go into building that screen and disposing of it down the line.
One of the few Energy Star rated TVs over 70-inches is the Vizio E-Series™ 75″ Class 4K HDR Smart TV (E75-F1). This model uses 165.7 kWh/yr and has a vertical resolution of 2160p. It is a direct-lit LED screen with adjustable backlight, has voice support through Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa and is surprisingly affordable with good sharpness and contrast and Chromecast built-in. All that said, this TV doesn’t get great reviews for durability, meaning it might not be all that eco-friendly, even if it is the only giant TV with an Energy Star rating (View Price on Amazon).
Next best is the Vizio E75-F2, using up 195.9 kWh/yr, but with very poor reviews, so I can’t recommend it. After that, there are a handful of Sansui 75-inch models using up 206 kWh/yr and a Silo model, none of which appear to be available in North America.
Sony may be your best bet for a somewhat eco-friendly 75-inch TV as part of their X900H series, using 256 kWh/yr (View Price on Amazon) and an 85-inch X900H using a whopping 323 kWh/yr (View Price on Amazon).
Not yet available outside of Africa, the Cello Solar TV is one to watch! Made to be highly energy efficient and powered by the included solar panel, the solar TV is a Smart TV with power functions to extend battery time by matching energy consumption to conditions. This system can also incorporate a range of extension kits for power, fan, phone charging, and even a refrigerator!
Here’s hoping Cello (a well-respected and ethical UK company) extends their off-grid solar-powered TV offerings to North America soon.
Furrion’s 12 V TV is also solar-ready, so if you’re looking for an exceptionally energy efficient, RV-stable TV for life on the road, in the woods, or otherwise off-grid, check out Furrion (View Price on Amazon).
The most energy efficient and eco-friendly TVs made by big brands
Back in 2008, Philips released their ‘Eco TV’, the 42PFL5603D flat-panel LCD ranging from 32-52 inches, with 1080p resolution. These TVs were free of six common toxic chemicals in TVs: lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyl, and polybrominated diphenyl ether flame retardants. Thankfully, these chemicals are now banned in the European Union, so any TV made there shouldn’t contain them.
The other differentiator earning Philips that ‘Eco TV’ label was the energy use of their 2008 models. The LCD TV used about the same power as needed to light an incandescent lightbulb, which was around 30 W less than most energy efficient 42-inch TVs at the time. On standby, the TV used just 0.15 W, which is still lower than most TVs on standby today. The Power Saver mode included a variable backlight, brightness limiter, and a room-lighting sensor, many of which are now standard in TVs sold in 2020. As such, the overall energy efficiency of the Philips Eco TV, it being an LCD screen, has long been surpassed by more modern LED screens that use less power as standard.
While you might still want to go with a Philips TV based on them having led the way in eco-friendliness more than a decade ago, you’ll be hard pressed to find a TV from Philips. That’s because they got out of the TV market for the most part, selling their brand name to Funai, who now make Roku OS TVs, the eco-friendliness of which is unknown.
As I mentioned above, Samsung has invested in cluster munitions, which might make you think twice about giving the company your money. That said, Samsung at least gives a nod toward the circular materials economy with a decent takeback recycling program, though their transparency on this leaves a lot to be desired (can anyone read the key on this happy-looking chart?).
To further tout their sustainability chops, Samsung recently introduced new eco-friendly packaging that is specially designed to be easily upcycled into creative home furnishings. Yep, your old TV box (already beloved of toddlers and cats alike) can now turn into a functional newspaper or magazine rack, an actual cat house, or a small end table, among other things. This is thanks to the corrugated cardboard being printed with an all-over dot matrix design that you can pay dot-to-dot with after scanning a QR code for an online manual of designs. This eco-friendly packaging (which is only eco-friendly if you reuse it) is available for the Frame, Serif, and Sero ‘Lifestyle TVs’ from Samsung.
Frankly, I don’t think the fact that you can reuse cardboard is that strong of a selling point. Isn’t it already pretty standard for cats to sit in TV boxes and parents to use large boxes to make play forts or trains, with or without Samsung’s design help? Stop selling munitions and start making more energy efficient and eco-friendly electronics using recycled and recyclable materials, Samsung, and then we can talk.
That said, Samsung is the only company to currently make a Nordic Ecolabel TV. This label is applied to TVs that:
- Have low energy consumption
- Do not contain harmful flame retardants
- Are free of mercury and contains a minimal amount of environmentally hazardous and harmful chemicals
- Are easy to recycle
Samsung make 78 such TVs, but none of these are available for sale in North America and most are no longer for sale in Europe.
LG Electronics, a South Korean company, seems to be engaged in some legitimately eco-friendly initiatives, including designing TVs in such a way as to make them easier to recycle. They won the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) 2015 Design for Recycling (DfR) Award for their 4K ULTRA HD OLED and LED TVs, for instance. These TVs are made to be recycling-friendly, with:
- Mercury-free display panels
- Use of recycled and recyclable plastics
- Use of some PVC-free and brominated flame retardant-free components
- Smaller and lighter packaging
- Ease of disassembly
- Standardized materials and connection types
Together, these design features make it easier for parts to be accessed and identified by recycling operations and easier to recycle overall.
The TVs included in their recycling program include those bearing the LG, LG Signature, Zenith and GoldStar names. The company claims that part of their sustainability efforts involves “informing consumers how much GHG [greenhouse gas] is emitted when they use a particular product,” though I haven’t seen evidence of this in product listings and, frankly, their TVs seem to use a lot more energy than the most energy-efficient models from other brands (which I’ve highlighted below).
In 2011, LG Electronics introduced Eco-Index, an environmental assessment standard used internally to classify the sustainability of LG products. The goal is to gradually increase the number of Green 3 Star products in their range, with these products being more energy efficient than competitors. This is detailed in their latest sustainability report (2019/20), which also lays out targets of:
- 50% Reduction in Carbon Emissions in the Production Stage Compared to 2017 (by 2030)
- Achievement of Carbon Neutrality through External Carbon Reduction by Expanding the CDM (Clean Development Mechanism) Project
As a guide, LG operations in 2017 produced 1.93 million tons of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalents, i.e. greenhouse gases). They look set to emit 1.31 million tons in 2020. That means their goal for 2030 still allows for the emissions of 96,000 tons of CO2 equivalents (or 20,000 cars on the road for a full year in the US). The company claims that 80% of the total energy use of their business sites in America comes from renewable energy, but they don’t include data on energy use overseas.
LG Electronics also complies with international regulations on hazardous substances including RoHS and REACH, and has implemented a supply chain green management program, the Green Program Plus, to monitor hazardous substances in their supply chain. They are also in the process of phasing out the use of Phthalates, Antimony trioxide and Beryllium in product components, and are working on removing PVC and BFRs from their products.
The company was the first to achieve Green Guard certification for low emissions from a TV, back in 2014, for their 55-inch Curved OLEG LG 55EC9300 TV. They have also earned the EU Eco Label for 9 TVs over the years, Korea’s Eco Label for 39 LED TVs, and Korea’s Green Certification for 12 TVs, though it’s hard to tell which, if any, of these are still available in North America.
At the January 2019 Consumer Electronic Show (CES), LG won a Sustainability and Eco-design award for their LG 55E9 55-inch E9 OLED 4K TV because the model is “…made of eco-friendly and recyclable materials including natural glass.” (View Price on Amazon).
All in all, LG is a decent choice for an eco-friendly TV, in terms of likely composition of the TV and the business itself. That said, I’d be happier to recommend their TVs if they made a genuinely energy efficient model that didn’t use nearly 300 W or almost 200 kWh/yr for a 55-inch screen.
Sony also have a recycling takeback program and some of their TVs may be made with SORPLAS, Sony’s much-touted recycled plastic acquired through that takeback program. However, I have not managed to confirm this with anyone at Sony, despite talking to several people in different parts and at different levels of the organization. No one could provide a satisfactory answer as to which, if any, of their current televisions of other products are currently made with SORPLAS.
According to Sony, “Use of SORPLAS™ in the BRAVIA KDL-40EX52H LCD TV helped reduce CO2 emissions by nearly 80% during its production as compared to virgin resin.” Sony currently list the following models as incorporating SORPLAS:
BRAVIA™ XE90 / X900E series – 49-inch, 55-inch, and 65-inch
XE80 / X800 Series – possibly just the 49-inch model.
As good as SORPLAS sounds, my hunch is that this program was rolled out as a sustainability marketing campaign to launch the Bravia TV series just over 5 years ago but is now somewhat defunct. SORPLAS is rarely, if at all mentioned in current press releases and marketing materials and is absent from the descriptions of any products at their site or elsewhere. SORPLAS seems to have been abandoned by Sony – even the link on their website to a page where you can(not) ask questions is dead. SORPLAS, if you’re out there, show yourself!
Ideas for green TV use
The first question to ask yourself is ‘Do I really need a new TV?’ And the next question is ‘Will a second-hand TV do?’ Unless your TV has broken or is an absolutely energy hog, chances are that the most eco-friendly TV for you is… the one you already have (or one you can buy or borrow from a friend). After all, new products just mean more resource and energy consumption as well as waste.
Now, assuming a new TV is a must, here are a few other questions you’ll want to consider:
Is it genuinely energy efficient?
This means it is not just Energy Star rated but actually uses little electricity. Confused? Energy Star compares like with like, meaning a giant TV that uses a huge amount of energy can still qualify for an Energy Star rating if it uses less energy than the average giant TV. The average plasma screen TV uses more energy than a refrigerator! And many TVs still use energy even when in sleep mode, especially if they have voice activation (see below).
All that said, modern LED TVs use very little power compared to LCDs and plasma screen TVs. Even the hungriest models with screens bigger than 70 inches tend to use less than 250 W, which is about the same as many small refrigerators. An OLED screen uses about twice as much energy as a regular LED screen, though, and Ultra HD or 4K displays also eat up energy. So, unless you’re really going for the top spec. TV, stick with a standard HD LED TV to save energy and electricity costs.
Does the TV contain toxic chemicals or conflict minerals?
Most TVs contain a variety of toxic heavy metals, including lead, cadmium, and mercury, along with hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyl, and polybrominated diphenyl ether flame retardants, and phthalates. Some companies (such as Philips) take pains to use alternatives to toxic chemicals and to source conflict-free minerals and recycled materials that aren’t responsible for damaging environmental and social impacts.
Is it an LCD TV?
LCD TVs are no better, and arguably worse, than cathode ray tube (CRT) TVs when it comes to recycling potential and toxicity. These TVs are not designed with recycling in mind, both in terms of materials used and the way LCD screens are put together.
Most LCD TVs use mercury lamps to light the screen, wit 20 or so long, thin, and fragile lamps running through the panel. Mercury is a toxic heavy metal, causing serious harm to human health and to wildlife when it leaches into soil and water from the landfill. As such, we’d want to carefully recover all that mercury before a TV is crushed and processed. The problem is that you have to disassemble the entire TV to get at the mercury. This takes time, which means it is not cost efficient and is rarely done. Instead, LCD screens are often thrown into shredders, thus exposing workers and the environment to toxic mercury.
In addition, the glass in LCD screens is actually made up of liquid crystals, which are expensive and cannot be recycled. Instead, the ‘glass’ is incinerated. Hardly eco-friendly.
All in all, skip the LCD screen and go for an LED television instead. Ideally one designed using recycled components and in such a way as to make it easy to disassemble and recycle itself.
Was the TV produced using nitrogen trifluoride (NF3)?
This is a greenhouse gas often used in the production of flat screen TVs. It is 17,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas and it is not regulated in the US or under the Kyoto protocol, meaning manufacturers may be lax about it leaking out into the atmosphere during manufacture. Some companies (such as LG and Toshiba) have moved away from NF3 to pure fluorine for some models, which is not a greenhouse gas and is actually cheaper and more efficient.
Does the TV have a presence sensor?
This means the TV will switch off automatically when you leave the room, saving some energy.
Does the TV have reflection reduction and a light sensor?
These features help save energy by allowing the TV to automatically dim or brighten based on the level of lighting in a room.
Is there a digital version of the manual?
Skipping the printed manual for an on-screen or online manual helps save paper and energy.
Is it a rear-projection LED or OLED TV?
Rear-projection LED and OLED (organic light-emitting diode) televisions tend to more energy efficient than LCDs and are far better energy-wise compared to plasma screen TVs.
Is there a takeback program?
Some manufacturers, such as Sony, Samsung, and LG, have robust recycling programs where they will take back electronics and packaging free of charge (and offer trades in some cases). This helps to reduce the need to source new materials and reduces the burden on local recycling centers and landfill.
Some recycling programs aren’t responsible, though, with companies shipping e-waste overseas where it ends up incinerated, in landfill, and/or exploiting local workers. You can find responsible recyclers near you by checking out the e-stewards program via the Basel Action Network (BAN) or by looking for third-party auditing through e-stewards.
Is your TV made of recycled materials?
Sony launched their first recycled TV more than a decade ago, in 2008, with the Bravia boasting plastic parts recycled from other Sony products, and packaging made from old LCD TVs. The Bravia was also energy efficient for the time, making it a pretty green alternative to conventional TVs.
More recently, other manufacturers have followed suit, using parts made from recycled materials often acquired through their own takeback programs.
Interestingly, black plastic is hard to obtain from recycling facilities, so if you want a better chance of your TV containing recycling materials, avoid black or darker plastic models and go for those made in lighter blue, cream, or coral pink. Google’s latest version of Chromecast (as well as Nest and Pixel products) doesn’t come in black in part because it is made with 49% recycled plastic!
How big of a TV do you really need?
No matter which TV you choose, size matters. Switching an old energy-hungry CRT or plasma screen TV for an eco-friendly one double the size isn’t likely to save energy or resources on balance. So, ask yourself whether a smaller TV will do and consider sharing a projector amongst friends if you only occasionally want a blow-out big screen movie or game night.
Is the company ethical?
Unfortunately, some of the most eco-friendly looking TVs are made by companies involved in questionable projects and investments. For instance, Samsung has invested in cluster munitions and Toshiba is involved in the construction of coal-fired power stations in Vietnam, Indonesia, and Cambodia.
So, even if their TVs are ‘green’, their company policies and actions are not. The reason why these companies still make the list is because you may be able to find a second -hand TV from Samsung or Toshiba, meaning you’re not directly funding their business practices.
Also, whether the company whose name is on your new TV actually made the TV is increasingly questionable. Many companies pulled out of the US market years ago as it was unprofitable. Their brand names are now licensed to smaller companies looking to break into the US market. These include, at the time of writing, Sharp, Panasonic, RCA, Westinghouse, Toshiba, and many others as detailed here.
Ways to make your existing TV more energy efficient
If you’re sticking with your current TV, but are still worried about energy use, there are ways to make your TV more energy efficient.
First, if you have an LCD screen, check that the backlighting is calibrated to medium or low, rather than to the excessively bright level set by the manufacturer. This will not only save energy it will also help prevent your screen from burning out so fast.
Second, remember that even when on standby, your TV is using power. Combat this by plugging your TV into a power bar and switch off the power at the strip to save energy. You might also want to have the power bar on a timer, in case you forget to turn it off at night or when you leave for work, school, etc.
You can also reduce energy usage by choosing a smart location for your TV and/or by closing window coverings to reduce screen glare. This means you can turn down your screen brightness instead of trying to combat natural light or glaring overhead light in a room. If you’re using your TV to play music, go to the settings and turn off the display, or turn the brightness all the way down if that’s not an option.
You might also want to check any ‘quick start’ settings on your TV. These can include voice control activation and other features that eat up power when the TV is on standby or otherwise draw excess power. If you don’t use them, disable them and save energy.
One other way to enhance the energy-efficiency of your TV set-up is to stream retro video games using the Amazon Fire TV Stick or other device. Older consoles are far more energy hungry and could use more than 50 kWh/yr if you use them for a few hours a day.