Prices for big-screen television sets are dropping, but the cost of home entertainment may still be headed up. That is because the fancy screens shoppers are lugging home this holiday season consume far more electricity than their old-school predecessors.
Consider that a 42-inch plasma set can consume more electricity than a full-size refrigerator -- even when that TV is used only a few hours a day. Powering a fancy TV and full-on entertainment system -- with set-top boxes, game consoles, speakers, DVDs and digital video recorders -- can add nearly $200 to a family's annual energy bill.
Most consumers aren't made aware of extra energy expenses when they are shopping for a TV. Energy Star tags, a government program that identifies the most energy-efficient models, won't begin flagging the greenest televisions, when turned on, until late next year. Currently, Energy Star judges energy consumption only in standby mode, limiting its