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The Purchasing Power of Green

May 4, 2009 10:33 AM, By Rebecca Day


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Panasonic’s Viera line

Panasonic’s Viera line is among flatplanels that are being manufactured to exceed Energy Star requirements.

Consumers may not have a lot of green in their wallets, but they still have green on the brain. With Earth Day awareness still fresh in the public conscience, the environmental movement continues to show legs.

Despite consumer belt-tightening and a worldwide drop in revenue for flatpanel TVs, consumers remain open to energy-saving TV products—if there's payback involved—according to a survey conducted by GfK Roper on behalf of Sharp Electronics. Findings of the survey of 1,002 adults, conducted in March of this year, indicate shoppers are three times as likely to pay a premium for a product that will save them money on electricity bills later on.

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According to the survey, nearly half of Americans say that green features play a role in purchasing decisions and more than a third look for energy-saving features before buying a consumer electronics product. Sharp's latest E series of Aquos TVs, along with eco-friendly TVs from Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, and others, are said to exceed Energy Star certification requirements by 15 percent or more. The study also revealed that consumers place a high value on recycling programs.

Sharp dealer David Young saw that first hand last month when The Sound Room held a recycling event at one of its St. Louis retail stores in celebration of Earth Day. "I anticipated we'd recycle maybe 50 TVs all day," Young says. "We had 50 by 11 a.m." The store had gathered well in excess of 200 TVs by the end of day.

Young says the event boosted store traffic to single-day levels not seen in years. He capitalized on the green theme by offering coupons worth $50-$200 off Sharp TVs ranging from 32in. to 65in. In a room designated the Sharp Room for the event, sales staff showed off the eco-friendly features of the new E77 series, whose remote controls feature a green button that consumers can press to put the TV into energy-saving mode.

Sony's VE5 series will offer appeal to eco-conscious consumers when it ships this summer. The 52in. KDL-52VE5, 46in. KDL-46VE5, and 40in. KDL-40VE5 models are the first to incorporate Sony’s microtubular hot cathode fluorescent lamp (HCFL) that's said to slash power consumption up to 40 percent compared with other Sony LCD TVs. The VE5 models are also Sony’s first LCD televisions to offer a zero-watt standby energy-saving switch. When the TV is not in use, the standby switch can be manually turned off, cutting power to nearly zero watts. When users flip the switch back on, the TV is fully operational.

The VE5 series also incorporates Sony’s presence sensor, which automatically goes into standby mode when no one is present in the vicinity after a user-set timeframe of 5, 15, or 30 minutes. When the sensor detects motion, the TV powers back on. Range of the sensor is 9ft. The sets also pack a light sensor that automatically adjusts the backlight according to ambient room light. The setting is said to save energy and improve image contrast by lowering the backlight when it is set unnecessarily high in dim room light.

On the recycling front, Sony has added Green Glove service to its $129 premier inhome delivery service for TVs purchased at Sony Style stores or through Sonystyle.com. With this service, in addition to setting up the new TV, Sony installers will haul away an old TV for recycling.

In general, TV makers have ratcheted up recycling efforts, too, as part of the overall increase in awareness of eco-friendly practices along with the transition to digital TV. Sony reports it has collected 14 million products as part of its Take Back recycling program. Consumers can take electronics products to participating Waste Management e-cycling centers where they will be recycled for free. Sony and Waste Management have also collaborated on more than 100 recycling events.

Samsung, too, is promoting its recycling services, called Samsung Recycling Direct (SRD). SRD accepts Samsung-branded consumer electronics sold in the United States including televisions, DVD and VHS players, audio equipment, home-theater systems, and smaller electronics—and expands the program to include non-Samsung-branded consumer electronics in the same categories. A growing number of fixed drop-off locations will be made available for Samsung home appliances as well. Samsung sponsors drop-off locations, its own recycling events, and recycling events held by its retail partners.



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