Greedy HDTVs

You selfish, evil, big-screen-loving, plasma-pandering, LCD-demanding, DLT-touting, audio-blasting, kilowatt-consuming, power-wasting, TV-watching couch potatoes! Who the heck do you think you are, anyway? Don't you realize your TV habits are killing us? All that electronics is causing power companies to build even more pollution-puking power plants.

Thus goes the theme from the Al Gore crowd, the National Resources Defense Council and their fiends. Oh, sorry, I meant friends.

Yep. It seems the tree-hugging, Birkenstock-wearing, anti-wind-power, global-warming goofballs have decided to take on another cause: our increasing use of electricity for entertainment. Hence, they've just painted a big red target on just about everything in your home, especially your big-screen TV.

Many of us probably put these kinds of people in the kook folder. I don't give much credence to someone who screams the nation's power grid is failing because of our over consumption and in the next breath is protesting against the building of wind turbines off the coast of New Hampshire or Texas, claiming that they are ugly and pollute the visual environment. This is the same group that cries, “You broadcasters with your towers are killing hundreds of thousands of teeny weeny, little defenseless birds ever year. Shame on you!”

The eco-czars' answer to ever larger TV sets is that they be made more efficient with such federally mandated “features” as sleep modes and require efficiency labels. The groups claim people shopping for new big-screen TV sets will pay attention to how much power the sets use when deciding what set to buy.

Can't you just see the average guy looking at a new HDTV set in Circuit City? He says to his wife, “Hey, hun, let's buy this little one. It's 2.5 percent more efficient than that really cool looking, 65in plasma set with the complete surround-sound system. Yes, I know this one has only a 32in screen. But remember, we're doing it for the children.”

Viewers won't buy TV sets based on power consumption. That's like saying people buy cars based on how long they can go between oil changes.

According to Nstar, Massachusetts' largest investor-owned electric and gas utility, a standard 32in television uses about one-third as much power as a 42in plasma TV set. When you add the cost of an STB for the 32-incher, the total yearly cost to power both is $121.20.

How much does a refrigerator cost to run? A standard fridge costs $265 per year to operate. If you buy a new Energy Star model, that cost drops to the same as for a plasma TV set. A window air conditioner? $345 a year.

Now, here's the dilemma: Do you choose to sit in an air-conditioned room, watching a great-looking TV set with a cold beer in hand, courtesy of your fridge, or do you choose to sweat it out without the air, a mini-TV and a warm beer. Hmm, let me see.

Okay, I've decided.

I can forgo the air conditioning, but not the rest. Besides, that air conditioner is the most expensive power consumer of the three, so I feel pretty ecologically responsible with this decision. That means it's shorts and T-shirts at my house. Bring on the beer, and what channel is the baseball game on?

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