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Finding the Greenest Televisions

Looking for the greenest television set? We've had to sort through a complex set of resources in the past to help you buy that green TV. EPEAT added televisions to its equipment registry in early 2013. We had anticipated this would bring some clarity to this category, but manufacturers do not appear to be embracing it. There are only 240+ television monitors registered at any level, double the number in early 2014. This compares with 660+ computer monitors.

Thirty-seven models from Samsung are registered in the United States as EPEAT Gold, the greenest level.

If you are just interested in energy efficiency, you can search ENERGY STAR®'s database of 1200+ qualified models. The database's search engine lets you narrow down choices by size and other factors. At the time of this update, the 47" LG - 47GA7900 comes up as most efficient in the US and Canadian markets.

Original Post

Greenpeace Survey (Jan '11) rates products submitted by participating manufacturers on a 10-point scale. The hypothetical score of a "fictional product that combined the best features of all submitted products within each category" is 7.68 for notebooks. Models scoring 5.00 or better were Sharp LC-52SE1 (6.46), Panasonic TC-42LD24 (5.18), and Sony KDL-32EX710 (5.07).

CNET (Apr '10) looks just at energy consumption. Properly calibrated, these LED models only consume 0.071-0.086 watts per square inch: Sharp LC-46LE700UN; LG 47LE8500; Vizio VF551XVT, VF552XVT; Samsung UN55C8000; and Sony KDL-46EX700, KDL-52NX800. Note that these are 46"-55" models. Many smaller LED/LCD displays will use less energy overall.

Greenpeace's Green Electronics Search (Jan 09) evaluates televisions on 20+ criteria in chemicals, energy use, lifecycle and other categories publishes its final rankings on a 10-point scale. Top units were the Sharp LC-52GX5 (5.92), the Sony KDL32JE1 (5.84), and the Panasonic TH-42PZ80U (4.96). Greenpeace does not appear to publish its entire listing of evaluated products. appears to use a combination of crowd-sourcing and criteria based on materials, manufacturing process, usage, and disposal to rank products on a 10-point scale. The site does not appear to publish a product's score for each criterion like Greenpeace does. Three models currently score 8/10, all Philips: 19PFL3403D/27, 15MF227B/27, 19MF337B/27. About 65 models from various manufacturers get a score of 7. The good news is that the entire database is online, but there are no review dates. Performance is sluggish; the site has labeled "beta" for at least four months.'s "The Greenest HDTVs" (Jul 09) lists 7 models from 7 manufacturers as "some of the greenest TVs we've seen." Two score 4 out of 5 bullets and are rated as Editors' Choice: Sharp Aquos LC-52D85U and Sony Bravia KDL-46XBR8. No indication as to how many models were evaluated in total. rates televisions on a scale using 1-4 "leaf" icons: "Four-Leaf Rated listings meet our most stringent criteria while One-Leaf Rated listings meet our minimum qualifying standards." No television gets 4 or 3 leafs. The Sony 32" BRAVIA LCD (JE1 series) and the Vizio 32" ECO Friendly 720p LCD each get a Two-Leaf rating. Greenopia provides more detail on their rating system in the comment, below.

EU EcoLabel (Eco Flower) lists lots of TV models from LG (12), Philips (49), Samsung (29), Sharp (34), and Sony (50) The Nordic Swan ecolabel lists 9 Samsung models.

Some listings use model numbers while others use model names: I had to do some research to verify that Greenpeace and Greenopia are both referencing the same Sony unit. Model numbers vary from country to country, as well: EcoLabel lists 7 Sony Bravia KDL series units, but none of the models match the above references.

Another approach is to shop by brand, but this can be equally perplexing. currently ranks Samsung and Sony as tops in is list of 15 HDTV brands, but the Greenpeaceranks them as #2 and #8 (respectively) on its list of 18 consumer electronics brands (Sep 09).

We can be greener by being attentive to our specs before we start shopping. LCD displays generally consume less energy per square inch than plasma displays; smaller displays generally consume less power than larger ones. And don't forget to check how much energy a planned purchase consumes when it is turned 'off' - standby (vampire) power consumption varies among brands and models.

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) now requires that "Televisions manufactured after May 10, 2011 must display EnergyGuide labels so consumers shopping for TVs will have more information about different models and how much energy they use." Click here for details.

The bottom line is that green buying in this category is still very difficult. Please post a comment if you know of any other good listings of television displays.

Greenopia's TV Rating Methodology

Greenopia's Research Director Douglas Mazeffa gave me some more insight into how it rates televisions. Note the weighting on the use phase of the product life-cycle for televisions and other electronics.

...we weight the areas that have the biggest impact in the product or brand's life cycle (thus it differs category to category). Thus for a TV it's the use phase, but for a piece of furniture the material selection and acquisition are the biggest impacts...[so] it is possible for one product to get more icons but have a lower leaf score than another with less icons. This happens because each icon is weighted differently into the product's overall score (the weights are based off of life cycle impacts). Thus, for an electronic, the use phase is typically the biggest environmental burden, so a product may only get 1 leaf it is does 4-5 of the other criteria and another product may get 2 leafs if it scores well in the use phase and maybe a couple of others. Typically, the icons is given to the listing if it gets half of the possible points in that criterion. Thus for TVs use phase may be worth 50, but packaging is only worth 5 possible points. We do the scorecard to show people where the product or brand excels in a given area. The overall leaf scores take that information and weight it accordingly.

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