The countdown is on. In 41 days, that old analog TV set with rabbit ears will become obsolete as the US makes a full transition to digital television. According to the Washington Post, about 70 million TVs will be affected. Yesterday it was announced that the government’s coupon program to offset the cost of digital converter boxes has gone belly up and that those seeking coupons will be placed on a waiting list. Whoops.

I won’t go over the intricacies of exactly what kind of TVs will go dark on February 17  (basically, if you subscribe to satellite or cable or have a new-ish TV with a built-in digital tuner, you’re in the clear) since the government has a pretty thorough FAQ section detailing everything much better than I can.

If you plan on opting for a brand new TV with a built-in digital tuner instead of a converter box, I do have some advice: go ENERGY STAR. Televisions in the US consume over 50 billion kWh of energy a year -- enough juice to power all of the homes in New York state for an entire year –- so use the digital switch as motivation to upgrade to a set that uses around 30 percent less energy than a standard unit (new, more stringent standards for energy-efficiency were instituted in November).  There’s a wide variety of ENERGY STAR-approved TV’s out there in all shapes, sizes and makes; they’re listed at ENERGY STAR’s television database.

Not being a huge devotee of home electronics and a bit of a Luddite, I don’t have personal recommendations for particular brands or makes of televisions (as long as the picture isn't fuzzy, the volume works, and BRAVO comes through, I’m happy) so go with what you fancy, keeping energy-efficiency in mind. And for more on tech-y topics, MNN’s trusty technology blogger, Karl Burkart, has got you covered. As the February 17 deadline approaches, I’ll be back with more on how to properly dispose of your old set. Now off to watch Ellen...

Photo: monitorhead

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