With more electronics on the market than ever before and the growing interest in energy efficient appliances, sorting out which products are better for the home and environment is a challenge. One new non-profit, however, has shaken up the way in which products from monitors to automobiles are evaluated and then ranked for their eco-friendly credentials.
TopTen USA evaluates a bevy of consumer electronics and household appliances currently on the market. Modeled after similar organizations based in Europe, TopTen USA’s overall goal is to transform the American market from one of ravenous energy consumption to one that generates huge demand for the most energy efficient products available. TopTen USA accomplishes this without any sponsorships to avoid any conflict of interest. Let’s take a look at the lists of the most energy efficient small, medium and large sized televisions currently available in the U.S.
The big winner overall is Samsung with 14 of the 31 televisions on the list. Sharp paved the way on TopTen USA’s large television list, however, with three models taking the top three spots. Magnavox performed well with the two most efficient models in the small TV category, with Philips, Panasonic, LG, Insignia and Sansui performing well, too. What is particular impressive about many of these televisions is how mean and lean their performance is on the energy efficiency front. The most efficient large TV, a Sharp 70-inch Aquos, operates on 64 watts, less than an incandescent light bulb. That is half of what similar televisions required just last year. And all the TopTen USA ranked televisions are very respectable investments for consumers interested in keeping their electricity bills low; in fact, they use half the energy of televisions that meet Energy Star’s minimum requirements.
The potential for increased energy savings is staggering. According to TopTen USA’s Seth Bauer, American replace about 200 million everyday appliances and electronics annually–or two per household. “A significant part of the solution to climate change,” says Bauer, “is sitting on every retail shelf in America, waiting for consumers to notice.” The choices consumers make matter because among Energy Star rated products, there is a huge difference in efficiency. One product sitting next to another on a shelf could be twice as energy efficient–yet both have that Energy Star moniker. The annual estimated energy consumption of that same Sharp Aquos, for example, is 104.5 kilowatt hours, while other qualified models in that group use as much as 195 kWh during the same time period. The word is spreading: utilities including PG&E and Connecticut Light & Power are promoting TopTen USA’s ratings.
So what methodology does TopTen USA use to derive its list? First, the organization determines efficiency based on the square inches of screen area per watt of power consumed. The maximum power in active mode is evaluated, and TVs that use more than 80 watts are eliminated from consideration. In sleep mode, power consumption must be less than one watt. But TVs are just the start. To learn about everything from the most energy efficient refrigerators to water heaters, explore TopTen USA for yourself.
“TopTen USA’s website turns all of the complexity of energy efficiency into an easy-to-use consumer shopping guide,” said Cindy Drucker, a TopTen USA board member and sustainability expert. “TopTen is helping to transform purchasing toward more sustainable choices.”
Photo courtesy Sharp. Graphics courtesy TopTen USA.