electronics

Next-Generation Energy Efficient TV Technology is Here

OLED TV

OLED TV

By John Taylor

With football season moving into high gear, lots of us are thinking about the ultimate TV viewing experience. There are many factors to consider when looking for the perfect TV, and with today’s technology it’s possible to have it all – high picture quality and design as well as energy efficiency.

For those of you who are early adopters, you may be wondering about one of the newest TVs on the market – the OLED (organic light-emitting diode) TV.

OLED TV is the next generation in television technology, representing the most significant change in display technology since the introduction of flat-panel TVs. The TVs are ultra-thin and light weight and produce superb picture quality.

Sound’s great? It gets better.

OLED TVs mean that you don’t have to sacrifice performance and style for energy efficiency.

Although “LED” stands for “light-emitting diode” in both cases, the design of each TV is actually quite different. LED TVs simply use an array of LEDs as the backlight for an otherwise traditional LCD (liquid crystal display) TV, shining through a screen of LCD pixels. With OLED TVs, the organic layer creates its own light source for each pixel. As a result, OLED’s improvement over LED’s color, clarity and contrast ratios is quite dramatic. And even with this leapfrogging display technology, OLED TVs can be energy efficient, too.

The first ENERGY STAR certified OLED TV — the new “Curved OLED TV” from LG Electronics — went on sale in July. Among its energy-saving features is the “Smart Energy Saving” mode, which includes a sensor that automatically adjusts the display brightness according to the viewing environment. According to the Federal Trade Commission’s “Energy Guide” label, the TV has an estimated yearly energy cost of only $18.*

To learn more about the first ENERGY STAR certified OLED TV, visit lg.com/us/oled/.

* The FTC’s calculations are based on 11 cents per kWh and 5 hours use per day. Your cost depends on your utility rates and use. Visit ftc.gov/energy.

John Taylor is vice president of public affairs and communications for LG Electronics USA.  

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Back to School Time

Brittney Gordon-Williams

By: Brittney Gordon-Williams

Labor Day is upon us. Nothing illustrates the end of summer better than seeing kids back at the bus stop in the mornings, and if my Facebook feed is any indication, kids across the country are already strapping on those backpacks and heading back to class. For many parents, this time of year brings a sigh of relief, as the whole family gets back to a normal schedule. But, the coming of the new school year can also mean the return to higher energy costs. Here are a few ways that EPA can help your whole family save energy, save money and help prevent climate change as you head back to school.

  • These days kids of all ages use the computer to complete homework assignments, and your child will undoubtedly spend countless hours in front of the monitor. Make sure that your computer is ENERGY STAR certified, and you will use 30-65 percent less energy depending on how it is used. Take your energy-saving a step further and activate your computer’s power management settings. You can save up to $50 each year.
  • The return to school may also mean the return to late nights spent studying. Make sure that your family is saving energy as the kids burn the late night oil by using ENERGY STAR certified lighting. Bulbs that have earned the ENERGY STAR use 75 percent less energy and last 10 to 50 times longer. Cool fact: If you placed an ENERGY STAR certified LED in your child’s nursery room today, it would last until they were in college.
  • Do you have a student heading to college? Make sure they don’t forget all of the great energy-saving education you taught them, and be sure to look for the ENERGY STAR when outfitting their room. From TVs and soundbars to the mini-fridge and light bulbs, ENERGY STAR’s certified products have everything you need to make sure your student is being a good environmental steward, even when away from the nest.
  • Did you know that school buildings can earn the ENERGY STAR? In fact, Demarest Elementary in New Jersey won the ENERGY STAR National Building Competition last year, reducing its energy use by over 50 percent. Check out this year’s competition, and work with your child’s school to save energy all year long. Saving energy leads to saving money, which will add up to an even greater education for the students in your life.

Before the kids get too bogged down with homework, don’t forget to join Team ENERGY STAR! By joining the team, your family will get access to fun and educational resources from EPA to help make saving energy a lesson that lasts a lifetime.

Brittney Gordon-Williams is a member of the ENERGY STAR communications team.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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New and Improved ENERGY STAR Product Finder

Eamon Monahan

Eamon Monahan, EPA

By: Eamon Monahan

The ENERGY STAR label is great because it’s simple – nearly everyone knows that a product with the little blue square has been independently certified to meet strict energy efficiency requirements. But if you are looking for more information about these products, you should check out EPA’s recently updated product finder. It is a fantastic resource for those interested in more of the technical details and features of specific products, in a broad range of categories – including electronics, appliances, lighting, and heating and cooling equipment. With the rollout of the ENERGY STAR product finder over the course of 2013, EPA has made data easier to find, understand, and use than ever before.

Compared to the old Excel-based approach, the ENERGY STAR product finder represents a huge improvement in usability. The basic view is designed to resemble the kind of experience that consumers are familiar with while browsing retail sites. Users are able to sort and filter results based on the key criteria they are interested in, as well as compare results for up to four different products. A keyword search also allows you to zero in on a particular brand name or model number, even a portion of a model number.

For the more technically inclined, an advanced view allows open access to the complete data set for each ENERGY STAR product category. The Excel-based lists are still available here, but the data can also be downloaded in five other formats for easy machine-readability. Users can create unique data visualizations and custom reports based on real-time data, and they are encouraged to create accounts to save and share their work.

Access to the dataset’s API (application programming interface) also allows users to create their own tools and apps based on certified product data. An app could, for example, help people identify what size refrigerator they should look for to replace an old one, then provide a list of ENERGY STAR certified models that meet that criteria.

EPA hopes individuals and businesses will take full advantage of this improved access to product performance data, to make it easier than ever for consumers to make informed decisions on energy efficient products. To get started browsing through ENERGY STAR certified products or developing your own innovative mobile app based on EPA’s data, visit the ENERGY STAR website.

Eamon Monahan works on program integrity and communications for the ENERGY STAR products program. He oversees the testing and certification process for all 65 product categories and assisted in the development of the ENERGY STAR product finder tool. 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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The Climate Impacts of Your TV: Beyond the Plug

Verena Radulovic, EPA

Verena Radulovic, EPA

By: Verena Radulovic

The great thing about buying an ENERGY STAR certified television is that you can get the latest in high-resolution technology (with all of the great new functionalities), and yet still feel good about the fact that you are contributing fewer greenhouse gas emissions to our environment by using less energy.  In fact, televisions that earn the ENERGY STAR have cut their energy use in half in just the last few years. When you think about all of the TVs sold each year, this clearly means a lot in the fight against climate change.

What you may not realize is that there is a hidden climate change challenge lurking behind the slim-profile, LCD panel technology typical of the most popular televisions on the market today (not to mention computer monitors, tablets, e-readers and smart phones).  It has to do with how they are made.  To etch and clean the glass in these panels, manufacturers use fluorinated gases that are highly effective, but also potent and persistent greenhouse gases.  For example, SF6 (which is used in the etching process) has a global warming potential nearly 23,000 times that of carbon dioxide, meaning SF6 will cause 23,000 times as much warming as an equal amount of carbon dioxide. If these gases are not captured and destroyed during the manufacturing process, they escape into the environment, contributing to climate change.

The good  news is that these gases can be captured and destroyed as part of the manufacturing process.  The process can also be refined so that fewer gases are used in the first place.  Many LCD suppliers have taken significant steps to reduce their emissions of fluorinated gasses. Yet, as worldwide demand for panels continues to increase, emissions are projected to rise unless all suppliers are comprehensively making reductions. If you’d like to learn more, please visit the EPA website.

About the Author: Verena Radulovic develops and manages various product specifications for the ENERGY STAR program, including televisions, displays and audio/video products.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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This Holiday Season, it Pays to be Power-Wise

Holiday Gift

By Samantha Nevels, CEA

Looking for new ways to save money on your energy bill? You’re not alone. A consumer survey conducted by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) ® found that 60 percent of consumers are concerned about their electricity bills. The good news is that consumer electronics products account for only 12 to 15 percent of an average home’s energy use.  Nevertheless, every little bit of unused energy saves you money and reduces energy demand.

The first step in cutting energy costs is understanding your energy usage. CEA has made this easy through a new, interactive Consumer Electronics Energy Calculator available at GreenerGadgets.org. With a few simple steps, this calculator will estimate the amount of energy used by your consumer electronics devices. All you have to do is select which electronics devices you own and estimate how many hours per day you use them. The calculator will then determine your energy cost per month and per year, and compare your energy use to that of the average U.S. household.

Below are a few quick and easy tips that will make a difference this holiday season:

  • Give the gift that gives back. Electronics are a popular gift for the holidays, and now you can give a great gift that also gives back.  Look for the ENERGY STAR if you are purchasing electronics this holiday season. EPA’s ENERGY STAR program recognizes energy efficient products that will save you money on your electricity bill and help protect the climate.  You can find more information on ENERGY STAR certified products at www.energystar.gov.

 

  • New electronics gift? Recycle the old one. Whether you get or give an electronics gift, be sure to reuse or recycle the old one, enabling the valuable materials to be used again in new products while helping to save natural resources. Check out EPA’s e-Cycling guidance for more information. CEA also offers a  recycling site locator at GreenerGadgets.org.

 

  • Pay attention to the plug. Plug electronic devices, such as televisions, DVD players, game consoles and audio systems, into eco-friendly power strips, or unplug devices altogether when they are not in use.
  • Read the fine print. Check your electronics owners’ manuals to make sure you are taking full advantage of any energy-conservation capabilities that your devices may have.

 

With these quick and easy tips you’ll be on your way to having more money in your pocket and contributing to a better, more sustainable environment.

About the Author: Samantha Nevels is the coordinator of Policy Communications for the Consumer Electronics Association.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Help Put the “E’s” in E-Cycling

By Grace Parrish

Since childhood, recycling has been an effortless task that was part of my daily routine. Using five bins labeled: aluminum, plastic, glass, paper, and tin, I thought I was the bee’s knees when it came to being eco-friendly. During my internship at the EPA this fall, I realized that although it is beneficial to keep these items out of the waste stream, I was mistaken in thinking my responsibility ended there. I always recycled my yogurt cups, pizza boxes, and cell phone boxes, but never thought about where the phone itself ends up. My role in recycling must extend a bit further to “e-cycling,” otherwise known as the recycling of electronics.

In this era, everyone’s buzzing with the newest laptops, cell phones, TVs, cameras, you name it! I am guilty of getting caught up in this hype. As a student at the University of Maryland, I must keep up with the latest trends and I rely on my cell phone and laptop daily to receive emails, check class information, research, and of course for everyone’s favorite, Facebook.

Now I find myself questioning where these devices end up once I’m done with them. During my time with the EPA, I gained a fresh perspective on electronics beyond tearing apart the box to a new cell phone received during the holidays.

According to the EPA, we generate almost 2.5 million tons of used electronics every year in the United States. By recycling electronics, we can do our part to improve the health of our environment. E-cycling lessens pollution, shrinks landfills, saves resources from manufacturing, and conserves precious metals, including gold and silver, and other materials used in production. EPA is working with big retailers and manufacturers in its Sustainable Materials Management Electronics Challenge to make sure they are recycling electronics in a safe and responsible manner.

So next time you bee-line it to the store for a gadget that is luring you in, think first if you really need it; when the urge inevitably takes over, rethink your options about where your previous electronics will go. Is donating to a family member, friend, or charity an option? If not, check out an electronics take-back location near you, simply visit: “Where Can I Donate or Recycle My Used Electronics?” We can do our part to put the “e’s”—electronics and environment, in e-cycling!

About the author: Grace Parrish is an intern for the EPA office of Resource Conservation and Recovery, and is intrigued by the impact of recycling electronics. She hopes that her pursuit of an Environmental Science and Policy degree at the University of Maryland, College Park will facilitate her in promoting the ideal of sustainability in a future career.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Should You Buy a Desktop or a Laptop?

Computer

By: Robert Meyers

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have passed, but many people are still looking to buy new computers for the holidays.  But what kind of computer?  Do you really need a desktop, or can a laptop do the same job just as well?  Many believe that you need a desktop for home use, but I’m here to tell you that laptops have become quite powerful in recent years and can completely replicate the desktop experience.

Since this is ENERGY STAR’s blog, you can guess why I’m writing about laptops versus desktops.  Energy consumption!  New, energy efficient laptops can consume anywhere from 50% – 80% less energy than a desktop.  And based on our experiences here at ENERGY STAR, we estimate that ultrabooks and netbooks can go even further and consume about 80% – 90% less energy.  With a docking station, external monitor, keyboard, and mouse, you won’t even feel that you’re using a laptop.

Whether or not you should go with a laptop depends on your needs.  Do you use your computer for word processing, email, music, video watching, photo editing, web browsing, or even some light to moderate gaming?  A laptop does all of this just as well as a desktop.  Do you run high-end games, render videos/3D models, program and number crunch for work, or need to run a very large number of processes at once?  Then a desktop might be a better choice, although even here some higher-end laptops can cover many of these uses.  For those worried about graphics, integrated graphics solutions have become very powerful recently and now have capabilities equal to entry level graphics cards.  Additionally, many laptops are capable of hosting discrete graphics cards if you need one.

Desktops will provide an edge in raw power and graphics, but laptops do a great job with all of the common, everyday tasks that most people need computers for these days.  I’m writing this blog on my work computer, which is a four year old laptop on a docking station that’s plugged into dual monitors, plus a separate keyboard and mouse.  I almost always am simultaneously running an email client, a word processor, a spreadsheet application, multiple web browser windows, and an antivirus program without any problems. 

For most people, it’s a no-brainer:  Laptops can provide the exact same services and experience as a desktop with much less than half the energy consumption.  Plus, you can pick them up and take them with you when you when you leave the house!  I’d love to see a desktop do that.

Biography:  RJ joined ENERGY STAR in late 2010 and immediately began work on energy efficiency specifications for a range of IT equipment.  RJ has a background in physics, electrical engineering, and sustainable energy and is told constantly by his family and friends that he is a huge nerd.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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A Global Approach to Managing the Holidays’ Hottest Gadgets

Discarded televisions being weighed before recycling in Taiwan

By Panah Bhalla

As we begin our holiday shopping this year, it is hard not to notice how important electric and electronic devices have become in our everyday lives. But with their welcomed constant upgrades, we have to figure out what to do with these products when they stop working or become outdated “e-waste”. As was mentioned by a previous blogger, electronic devices can contain valuable resources such as copper, gold, and silver. But they can also contain harmful materials such as lead and mercury that can pollute the environment and affect human health. A study I read recently estimated that e-waste could increase by 700% over the next 15 years. This growth presents a particular risk for developing countries, where impoverished communities dismantle old appliances and electronics by hand and without adequate safety precautions in order to make money from the scrap metal inside. In addition to the supply of old devices from their own countries, the growing stream of e-waste that ends up in developing nations around the world includes items that were purchased, used, and disposed of in countries like the United States.

Last month I participated in a workshop in Taiwan on how to manage e-waste in an environmentally sound manner. I joined representatives from 13 countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Nigeria, Ghana, El Salvador and Trinidad and Tobago. The bulk of the workshop focused on the recycling system in Taiwan, where fees from producers and importers of new electronics are used to subsidize the safe recycling of e-waste. From the outset, participants asked detailed questions, wanting to know all the intricacies of the fee-based system.

As I watched the discussions unfold, I realized that this workshop was a perfect example of why the President’s National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship charged EPA to work with developing countries on safe e-waste management. At this workshop, we were all working towards the common goal of reducing threats to health and the environment while maintaining economic opportunities for individuals involved in recycling. Nobody had all of the answers, but everybody was learning from each other and identifying new strategies they could implement back home. At the end of the week, we decided to create a formal network to help us share our experiences on an ongoing basis. It is clear that the pollution and health threats associated with e-waste recycling are significant, but by taking a collaborative international approach like this, we all stand to benefit. As we shop for family and friends this holiday season, we can feel confident that the global community is working together to address the challenge of recycling these gadgets safely.

To learn more about my work visit

About the author: Panah Bhalla works in the Office of International and Tribal Affairs as the lead on e-waste issues for the Asia-Pacific and Latin American/Caribbean regions. She holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Management and lives in Washington, D.C.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Remember to E-Cycle!

By Lina Younes

Electronic items are popular gifts for dads and recent grads. Items such as computers, widescreen TVs, game stations, camcorders, eReaders and mobile phones quickly come to mind as ideal gifts for that special person. Personally, I like looking at the ads for electronic items in the Sunday paper to see the latest gadgets available in the market. To me it’s fascinating to see the latest technological developments in electronics. It’s hard not to resist buying the latest computer that is much faster, much lighter, and has a longer-lasting battery.

However, if you decide to buy the latest game system, computer, or cellphone, what are you planning to do with the old one? Have you heard of eCycling? You can donate computers, TVs, cellphones to non-profit organizations to extend the life-cycle of those items. I’m sure they may still have more years of good use. However, there is another option that is even better for the environment. How about recycling your used and unwanted electronic items? That’s known as eCycling!

The process of eCycling allows many of the valuable metals and components in those electronics to be reused in other useful products. Did you know that most electronic products contain valuable resources such as precious metals and engineered plastics which require considerable energy to manufacture? By recycling, these valuable materials are recovered for future reuse. During this process, virgin resources are conserved and there is a lower environmental impact overall. To put these numbers in context, did you know that in the United States by recycling approximately 414,000 tons of electronics in 2007, the release of greenhouse gases prevented was the equivalent of the annual emissions of more than 178,000 cars?

So, whether you’re recycling a computer or a cellphone or a TV, check with the store where you’re buying the new electronics. They will likely have an eCycling program available so you can safely retire your used electronic products. Furthermore, states, municipalities and schools have computer collection programs for their residents from time to time to help protect the environment.

Just some ideas on how to go green with your electronics. Any suggestions? We will love to hear from you.

About the author: Lina Younes is the Multilingual Outreach and Communications Liaison for EPA. Among her duties, she’s responsible for outreach to Hispanic organizations and media. She spearheaded the team that recently launched EPA’s new Spanish website, www.epa.gov/espanol . She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. She’s currently the editor of EPA’s new Spanish blog, Conversando acerca de nuestro medio ambiente. Prior to joining the agency, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and an international radio broadcaster. She has held other positions in and out of the Federal Government.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Old Gadgets Can Be Useful, Too

Reposted from USA GOV

By Felicia Chou

‘Tis the season to be gushing about the new electronic gadgets you’ve received for the holidays, and figure out what to do with your old ones. Sure, you could keep them in your closet or attic, waiting for the day VHS tapes are all the rage again, or when radio-sized phones are back in style. Maybe that old TV can be used as a giant paperweight. But there are plenty of better alternatives to put your unwanted electronics to use.

I’ve had this laptop since college and believe it or not, it still works. Well, besides the fact that the touchpad and keyboard aren’t working; and I have to keep it plugged in because the battery is pretty much dead. If, like me, you don’t want to part with your old computer just yet, see if you can upgrade the hardware or software to put it on par with your new gadgets. In my case, I would replace the battery and the keyboard, and plug in a new wireless mouse. Or, after clearing out your personal data, you can donate working electronics to those who need them.

The next best thing is to recycle your old gadgets, but before you start carting loads of electronics to your nearest electronics collection program or drop-off point, check if they’re working with a third-party certified recycler. You’re probably thinking, third-party what? Well, companies that recycle electronics can be certified by outside organizations (like R2 Solutions and eStewards) and regularly audited to make sure that your electronics will be managed safely. That way, you can rest assured that your old gadget is being recycled in a way that is protective of our health and the environment. Check out R2 Solutions and e-Stewards® for a list of certified recyclers.

So, why shouldn’t you just let your electronics sit at home and collect dust, or worse, get thrown away in the garbage?

Electronics are made of precious metals and materials, like gold, copper, and glass. If they’re thrown away, all that precious material that required a lot of energy to mine and manufacture will go to waste. When you recycle your electronics, those precious materials can be used in other products, such as electric cars or watches. You’ll also be preventing the pollution that would have been caused by having to mine and manufacture raw materials. In fact, recycling one million laptops saves enough energy to power over 3,000 US homes for a year.

So while you’re having a blast trying out all the new features on your shiny new gadgets, just remember to put your old ones to good use. I, for one, will be looking forward to the new battery and keyboard to keep my beloved laptop working for as long as I can.

About the author: Felicia Chou is a Program Analyst in the Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery at EPA. Find out more about what you can do to green your holiday season at http:// www.epa.gov/waste/wycd

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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