Any Energy Conserving Products Out There? [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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05-03-2007, 12:46 PM

I'll probably get blasted for suggesting this topic, but my energy bill last summer went through the roof. Most of that was air-con, but with high-watt amps and all the other components necessary to watch movies in 7.1 surround and enjoy my music collection, I've got to believe that they were also a factor. Of course, these components also create heat which then has to be dealt with by turning up the air-con. So the problem is really two-fold: heat and energy consumption both contribute.

For my part, I have to say that my PS Audio HCA-2 is quickly becoming my favorite amp as it gets warmer around here. Nonetheless, that HCA-2 is still running at 225 watts when it's on and probably trickling another 15-20 watts down the drain when its off but plugged in, so I have to guess that amps are a big part of the problem. And my 400W monoblocks are even worse: I could probably fry an egg with them after a couple of hours. Bottom line is I can't enjoy or even concentrate on my favorite symphony if I'm sweating in my chair. And what about the other components? My SACD player is quite the space heater after a 3 hour movie and the TV is another culprit. All in all, I doubt I'll be getting any Al Gore accolades anytime soon for my setup.

So are there any companies that offer energy-efficient products? Is this even a discussion the mid to high fi companies are having in the board-room? Should it be?

More specifically, since I'm in the market for a new TV, would I be better off with LCD or Plasma, or something else? Will those upcoming laser TVs run cooler?

05-03-2007, 03:24 PM
LCD's generally more energy efficient than plasma, and some of the newer LCD models will likely start using LED backlighting which uses even less energy. The plasma models are generally rated to consume ~350 watts, but their power consumption greatly varies depending on the type of signal and the settings. As you can see from the chart below, the LCD will typically consume the same amount of power no matter what signal goes into it. It will only vary depending on the lamp setting. In contrast, a plasma's power consumption will indeed vary depending on the source signal and the brightness/contrast settings.

As far as other gear goes, I think that the EU talked about implementing mandatory power consumption standards for electronic equipment, which would have effectively outlawed the production and importation of Class A amplifiers. I have no idea how far those discussions got or if anything is still in the works along those lines.

05-04-2007, 11:56 AM

That is very helpful information. I was actually seriously considering one of the Sharp Aquos units, so this is good news. What about heat? Which type produces more heat? Does anyone out there have both an LCD & Plasma tv?

PS I think outlawing Class A amps is totally extreme - it should be a choice for those customers who want to purchase energy/heat efficient components. I can just imagine a whole black market around buying amps out of the backs of vans in the back alleys of Paris - now that would be insanity.

05-07-2007, 10:38 AM
Just out of curriosity, anyone ever consider solar panels or a windmill to "support" their hobby? I'd consider it if the association busybodies would only let me get away with it.

05-08-2007, 04:27 PM
Don't even get me started on HOAs! For all the ranting about arbitrary and unfair government regulations, these HOAs can be downright communistic by comparison. HOAs actually have the power to confiscate your home if you violate any of their bylaws, with minimal due process required. Thank goodness my neighborhood doesn't have any of that. I would think that if you and some of your neighbors want to allow for solar panels, you just need some like-minded people to get elected onto the HOA board.

My wife and I thought about looking into that solar energy rebate program that California's supposed to implement this year, but I haven't heard anything new since it was announced last year.

As for heat between LCD and plasma, I think plasma generates far more heat, which likely explains their generally higher power consumption as well.

I don't think the EU intended to outlaw Class A components, but that would have been an byproduct of the proposed energy conservation standards. Like I said, I don't know the current status of that discussion, only that it was brought up a few years ago.

05-09-2007, 03:48 PM
Speaking of solar panels in Calif., there are two big problems with it, so I'm still holding off:

- The technology is wwwway overpriced. A friend of mine used to be an accountant at one company and said that they typically jack up prices 2-300% because customers don't know what the parts really cost.

- California rebate restrictions are so bad right now that there is actually a 75% drop in installations this year. Thanks to A'nold Snotzanagger and his energy co. buddies, the newly passed incentives actually raise energy bills for homeowners during peak energy use times.

Until someone up in Sacramento gets a clue, I'm going to stay out of it, but it irks me to no end to not be able to do my part for the environment. I already have one association member on board, so when the time is right and Shwarts-n-poop and his rabble out of office, we'll be ready. Anyhow, after a few more rolling blackouts under the belt, there should be far more support for solar energy.

Back to the topic, I'm actually considering several steps to cool the room while watching movies in the summer:

- Replacing my CRT TV with a Sharp Aquos LCD

- Completely turning off components when not in use - I found that leaving them in stand-by during non-use also generates heat. I can also use my Parasound Scamps to turn components on & off.

- Removing seldom used components like VCR, Outboard tuner, DAC, etc.

- Not using the sub, or at the very least manually turning it on & off when needed and disabling the auto-on feature.

- Using smaller, more efficient amping. For example, using a single PS Audio Trio A-100 amp and the TV's speaker as a center channel, won't sound perfect, but it will help - anyhow it's just possible to enjoy a movie while sweating.

- Installing a whole-house fan (Tamarack HV1000) in the TV room, or just outside it. The room in on the second floor, so that's perfect.

- Insulation: doubling the insulation in the attic (using standard "pink-stuff" rolls and also that silver-reflecting stuff). I will also be installing industrial-strength window tinting.

- Using small LED "mood lights" instead of the two torchieres I currently have. I'll have to give up the ability to dim the light, but I can live with that. I'm even thinking of adding a strip behind the TV a-la-Pioneer.

- Replacing the Sony DVD/SACD with a more efficient one - I'll even live w/o SACD for the summer months if I have to. I know that sounds silly, but that Sony player will melt cheese after two hours. Anyone have any brand/model recommendations?

Anyhow, that's all I have thought of so far, and I'm still investigating brands and options, so if anyone has any other ideas or options, don't hesitate to post.

05-12-2007, 01:34 PM
As far as I know, the parts of state solar initiative that have been implemented so far only cover commercial buildings and new residential construction. I haven't heard anything new with regard to existing home upgrades -- supposedly we're talking about $10k rebates. Some friends of ours put off their solar projects until these rebates go into effect (that might be the real reason why there's been a drop off in solar installations, everyone's waiting on the rebate program before proceeding). If you have any updated info about the state program, let me know because even the state's website hasn't been updated in a while.

Actually, I have no problem with peak hour pricing on energy (just as I'm ambivalent towards rising gas prices since it simply creates market incentive to drive less, choose more fuel efficient vehicles, and take public transit). Electricity cannot be stored, and I can tell you that peaker plants that only kick in during high demand period cost a lot to construct, and are not ideal to situate in already built-up area (NIMBYs, land costs, environmental impacts, etc.). In actuality, peak hour electricity costs more to generate, so I don't take issue with pricing it accordingly.

This idea of peak hour pricing has been discussed forever, but there was no practical way to implement it since most homes have basic analog meters that only maintain a running kilowatt count. I know that some newer neighborhoods and other communities have gone to automated power meters, which would make staggered peak hour pricing possible. Implementing it statewide would require a major investment, though with wireless technology, I can see it being a lot cheaper now since automating the power meters would no longer require tying into a fiber network.

With the solar initiative, my concern would be with the utilities trying to gouge the consumers that generate excess power with their solar setup. As I understand it, the utilities are required to buy any unused rooftop solar power from residential customers, but most solar customers still need to draw at least some electricity from the grid. I'd be more on the lookout for any changes to the laws that would make this arrangement less equitable for consumers.

Looks like you got a good energy conservation checklist. I would think though that a DVD player doesn't take up that much power consumption, no matter how hot it might feel on the outside.

During that 2000 rolling blackout meltdown in Cali, I remember one of the big tips I read on energy conservation was to unplug any AC adaptors that you're not using, even if you've already turned off the devices they're attached to.

In our home, we also upgraded the insulation and added insulation in the outer walls. Apparently, the walls in the home were all built with no insulation behind the drywall. On warm days, I can already tell that the walls don't get nearly as hot as they did before.

We also thought about installing an attic fan, but our HVAC contractor told us it won't work well since we just installed central AC in anticipation of our pending baby arrival (so much for our energy conservation!)

06-09-2007, 04:22 AM

I'll probably get blasted for suggesting this topic, but my energy bill last summer went through the roof. Most of that was air-con, but with high-watt amps and all the other components necessary to watch movies in 7.1 surround and enjoy my music collection, I've got to believe that they were also a factor. Of course, these components also create heat which then has to be dealt with by turning up the air-con. So the problem is really two-fold: heat and energy consumption both contribute.

The new digital amps are about 97% efficient.

When and if SED tv ever comes out, it is supposed to be more efficient than LED tv's.

06-19-2007, 10:54 AM
Well, I've bought a second PS Audio HCA-2. I could have gone with the smaller newer amps they have, but the HCAs have been dropping in price a lot this year and money is always tight. Anyhow, I'll need the juice to drive 4 ohm speakers, even if I'll only be using two. Too bad PS Audio never made a multi-channel version of that amp - it's a beaut.

Regarding air-con, I signed up for the SoCal Edison re-imbursement plan where they can shut off my air-con at will. It's not ideal, but it gets me an extra $200 which I'm putting towards the whole-house fan. The Sacramento lawmakers made some baby-step changes to the Solar energy rebate plans, but I'm not ready to sink another $8K into this house, especially for an investment that will take 7-10 years to pay back. Kind of like buying a Prius - callous as it may seem, for most SoCal folks, it's just not worth it anymore.

Back to the alternate summertime TV setup. I still have some unusually high sources of heat. First off: the Outlaw Audio pre/pro. Any suggestions on what I could use in its place? I used to have a HK digital receiver (the DPR1001), but it also ran hot, and it wasn't supposed to. What I'm curious about is that since pre/pros don't do any amplification, they shouldn't be little room-heaters; but the Outlaw is always warm, even when in stand-by. I don't want to unplug it because I don't want to have to futz with all the settings each time I want to watch a movie. Any pre/pros that run cool? Does it matter if it's "digital"?

Next up: the Sony SACD/DVD player. It's been an amazing performer with both movies and music, but that sucker is a hot-head too. Does anyone know if the new high-def players run hot? Are there some that run cooler? Is there a difference between HD-DVD and Blu-Ray?

Finally: the Panasonic PVR. I'm kind of torn here, because the one thing I can't live without is the Commercial Skip button on the remote. Are there other makes/models that have this feature? I also wouldn't mind a larger hard drive (although I suspect that is the biggest source of heat in the thing). But I will most likely be shopping around for a new model that hopefully also runs cooler. Anyhow, from my experience in IT, I have a feeling the hard drives in these boxes have a rather finite life span, so replacing this component every few years is probably a good thing.

Thanks for all the input so far. Keep it coming.