Still got a big box TV? High energy costs may make you think again

crt tv energy costs

If you’re still holding on to your old big box CRT TV, you may unknowingly be adding to your household bills because of their high energy consumption.

With prices falling on more energy-efficient flat screen TVs, the post-Christmas sales may be a great time to pick up a new TV that’s cheaper to run. HD TV sales continue to rise, but there are plenty of households still holding on to their older sets – in a December 2011 survey of 1,182 Which? members, 31% still owned a trusty big box CRT TV.  However, our tests have found that these older TVs can consume as much as four times the energy of a modern flat screen.

High energy use of CRT TVs

To calculate the energy use of CRT TVs, we took a look back through our expert testing archives to find the last batch of big box TVs we tested, in 2005.

While we expected their energy consumption to be higher than what you’ll get from modern flat screens, when we calculated the likely impact on your electricity bills, the results were eye-opening.


CRT TVs use more energy than flatscreens

One of the worst offenders from our 2005 test was a 32-inch JVC TV, the HV-32D40BK, which consumed a whopping 164W when switched on.

To put that into context, that’s four-times higher than the most efficient 32-inch flat screen we’ve tested this year – the Panasonic Viera TX-L32E3 consumes just 38.5W while switched on.

And the difference to your bills? If you were to watch TV for five hours a day and leave it in standby the rest of the time, the old big-box JVC will cost you £43 pounds a year to run, while the flat screen Panasonic will cost just £10. If you’d been running that big box TV for the last five years, you could have added over £200 to your electricity bills.

CRT TV energy costs

Energy costs for 32-inch CRT and flatscreen TVs (cost per year calculated at 5 hours use per day, 14.5p per kWh)

Modern screens more efficient in standby

Even when you don’t have the screen switched on, there can be a huge difference in energy consumption between an older CRT TV and modern flat screen.

In 2005, we tested the Sony KD-32DX51U TV, and found that it had a shocking standby power consumption of 13.8W. A number of other CRT models we tested that year consumed over 5W when left in standby.

These days, it’s rare for any flat screen TV to consume more than 0.5W when left in standby, meaning there’s a negligible impact on your energy bills.

Should I buy an LED TV, LCD TV or plasma TV?

Plasma TV

Plasma TVs have high running costs

If you’re looking to buy a new TV and you’re keen to keep your household bills low, it’s worth considering the differences between the various HD TV technologies available.

From our independent tests, we’ve found that LED TVs tend to be the most efficient, consuming the least energy and adding less to your bills.

LCD screens can vary significantly on energy consumption, though plasma sets tend to be the most energy-hungry of all and can add considerably to your household expenses.

Spending more to save more?

Of course, the price outlay for buying a new TV pisn’t to be dismissed, and the costs you’re adding to your bills by keeping an old CRT TV going could be dwarfed by the costs of buying a whole new TV, even if your new TV is kinder to your household bills.

Which? Energy Saver Logo

The Which? Energy Saver badge

However, if you’re considering making the jump to a modern HD TV and have one eye on the January sales, then this is a great time to snap up a bargain.

We test the energy consumption on TVs while they’re switched on and in standby, as well as testing the efficiency of energy-saving features like eco-modes.

We then calculate the likely annual running costs for every TV we review, helping you figure out the impact on your household budget. The best-performing TVs are awarded our Which? Energy Saver stamp of approval.

All of our reviews feature live price-linking to online retailers, so as well as reading our expert independent test results to help you find the best HD TV, you’ll be able to track down the cheapest online retailer with ease.

Do you still own a CRT TV?

Yes (59%, 479 Votes)

No (42%, 339 Votes)

Total Voters: 816

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Categories: Televisions

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13 replies

  1. Marvelous isn’t it? I bought a new Sony 32″CRT and 12 months later out came LCD tv’s, then a few years later LED sets, now there is 3D viewing! Who in their right mind can afford to change their set every time some company brings out new technology not forgetting that the price increases between 200 – 300% for every new innovation, just to watch endless repeats, forget it!

    1. err, yes, but your sony crt has a far superior image to any flat panel tv set………plus LED tvs are STILL just LCD panels using led bulbs for the light, they are not actual led screens at all, just a marketing con, but most people dont know about anything anyway…..

    2. I couldnt agree more with James! CRT still has way better viewing agngle, better contrast and colour than the crappy LCD panels!! Also the sound is better as the CRT has a bigger cabinet for deeper bass reproduction – the LCD units have tiny speakers inside which sound tinny by comparison and lets not forget that many LCD panels actually use MORE power than CRT per square inch and although the latest models are more energy efficient than earlier LCD’s, they still use more energy as they typially have bigger and bigger panels! What’s the point having a 50″ panel when the poor quality digital transmission is so crao it looks awful on anything over 21″ anyway! What a load of compressed to hell, jittery unclear crap we have now as a terrestrial broadcast. It was much better Ten years ago on proper analog! If we actually lived in a democracy, we would have been given a vote on the issue of do we want digital tv or not!

  2. Total crap again Radio 4 proved in January last year I think that LCD and LED televisions actually use MORE energy than CRT’s NOT less – Get your facts right

  3. We’ve just changed our JVC ( identical to the one in the article) and our old American style fridge freezer. I read our meter every day as we had solar panels installed last year and we’re monitoring it all. I cannot believe how our over night power consumption has plummeted by buying a new TV and fridge freezer. Yes, we’ve spent about £3500 on the two, but on bank deposit at 1% ( if you’re lucky ) the income would have been £35 per annum. If we extrapolate the savings we think it could be £200 per year – and that’s tax free. Yes we don’t have the capital any more, but we have superior products and we feel silly not doing it earlier.

  4. I have finally replaced my old LG 32″ CRT TV with a Bush 32″ LED one. I read my meters at the same time every week and my electricity consumption has dropped by almost 10℅ on average, it is definitely due to the TV as nothing else has changed. I am amazed and now wish I’d done it years ago! The picture is so much better too – especially on a sunny day when you had to draw the blinds to be able to see the picture on the CRT – no glare or reflection from the screen.

  5. I have just measured the power usage of my ~4 year old flat screen Sony KDL-32EX403.

    Its power consumption is about 1W in standby and 70W in use.

  6. There biggest offender is about $10 a month if u left it on 24 hours a day. If your watching enough tv 4 this to matter find something to do with your life.

    1. wait a moment ether there figures are off or in the uk people pay less than 5 cents per killwatt hour? I pay twice that and the nucular plant is 15 miles from my house

  7. I still use my 36″ Toshiba CRT flat screen TV because for standard definition broadcasts it knocks the socks off every modern TV I’ve seen. It doesn’t need the upscaling modern TV’s have to do to try and display SD broadcasts. It has 3 SCART inputs, component, and normal video input, as well as digital and analogue audio connections. It will display 16:9, 14:9, 4:3, super live and cinema (which are variations on zooming a 4:3 image to fill the frame, and it has a subtitle mode that moves the image vertically to better display subtitles.

    Whilst less relevant to UK usage, it can decode PAL, SECAM, NTSC 4 43 and 3 58 by manual selection, or it can use its auto detect function. This means it will replay an NTSC DVD without difficulty. And surprisingly, its image quality has improved along with that of the transmissions over the past few years. There’s life in the old dog yet!

    It has Dolby surround and a switchable sub woofer to produce sound that no 1/2″ thick modern wonder flat screen TV can deliver without recourse to £000’s spent on an audio system or sound bar.

    Any downside? Well, yes, along with its bespoke stand it weighs 108Kg!!!!!!

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