11 November, 2005

Another reason to blow up the TV

The San Jose Mercury News makes me say "whoa":
Over the next decade, our gadget fetish -- when combined with microwaves, coffee makers and the like -- will require more power than we use to heat or cool our homes....

The nation's 266 million TV sets already consume about 4 percent of all residential energy. That's enough to power all the homes in New York state for a year, according to a National Resources Defense Council study.

At this rate, there will be more televisions in the United States than people in the next five years. TV energy consumption will increase by more than 50 percent, as people replace their old sets with high-definition, home theater-size screens.

Plasma displays are particularly porcine, snarfing two to three times as much energy as other types of TV screens.


that's why my friends and i act out sports games from the box scores in the newspaper (which we swipe from people on the bus) 

Posted by chromo

The average American household in 2001 used 10,600 KwH of energy for electricity. This is roughly the same amount of energy in 300 gallons of gasoline. Average consumption of gasoline for motor fuel per household for that year: 1,056. In other words, three times as much energy goes into fueling our cars than goes into EVERYTHING it takes to run a house: AC, fridge, computer, TV, etc. Ditch the TV, of course, but if you want to save energy ditch the car first. 

Posted by saurabh

Wow, that article was just amazingly low on numbers. The comparison with total energy spent on heating homes strikes me as somewhat unhelpful, since that's not even homogenously distributed over a given region, let alone over the country. Lighting and refridgeration would have been better comparisons.

This CSM article  has more numbers, but they're also kWhr/year, which is annoyingly vague, since there's no way to peg one's personal entertainment consumption against some vaguely defined national average. These numbers are six years old. Let's see, if you watch 6 hours of Stewart/Colbert, two 2 hour movies, a couple hours of Frontline and C-Span, and two hours of Mystery/Simpsons/Miscellany, that's 14 hours a week, times 52, times 68 watts on for the most common 1999 TV set is about 49.5 kwHrs. Assuming Saurabh's 36 kwHr/gallon figure, that comes out toT less than two gallons of gas for the most amount of TV that I can possibly imagine watching in a week, watched every week. Let's assume people don't routinely unplug their tvs. Less than another two gallons of gas. Though, ctually, Saurabh, I'm not sure about your gas-to-kwHr conversion--I'm not finding any consistent citing on how much electricity you'd get out of a gallon of gas poured into a power plant. But even if the energy/gallon of gas number is an order of magnitude off, and even if you watch three or four times as much TV as I can, for most people  this still pales in comparison to their car. Note also that if you're sitting at home watching TV, you're not driving--unless you've gotten one of these monstrosities.

The point about AC-DC converters and general appliances drawing power even when nothing is on or plugged into the output end is a very good one--I wish it had been made more emphatically and less parenthetically.  

Posted by Saheli

if the numbers are too low, electric-gasoline hybrid televisions could bring parity. this is years away. in the meantime, one could run an extension cord into the garage and power the television through the rear outlet of a hybrid pickup truck, taking the television off the grid entirely and making energy equivalency much easier to determine. 

Posted by chromo

Hybrid televisions seem like a good idea. Frankly these biodiesel TVs aren't as cool as they've been made out to be. The amount of diesel exhaust mine puts out is ridiculous, and I'm probably wasting a whole lot of time scraping this soot off the ceiling.

As to the conversion numbers, I'm pretty sure that's a "bomb calorimeter" type number, not an actual "recovered energy" number. Internal combustions engines are something like 30% efficient these days, but I think most power plants are way more than that, especially for something that would burn as clean as motor-quality gasoline. This  claims that natural gas plants get about 7500 Btu/KwH, which is about 45% efficiency. Properly speaking I guess this means I should cut my number in half. 

Posted by saurabh

I was amazed by these numbers because they imply that new large coal-fired power plants will likely be constructed for the exclusive use of plasma-screen TVs. Which is wack.

Yes, of course, let's all get rid of cars if at all possible, and I'm doing all I can for that, chewing up asphalt instead of acorns this fall. But isn't it a bit disturbing that these marginal differences in home entertainment would have such disastrous large-scale effects? 

Posted by hedgehog

About the TVs in cars ... yikes. (I love that the banner ad I got at the link was for a car zooming around under the word "POWER." 

Posted by hedgehog

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