If you are still searching for signs of extraterrestrial life by staring at the "snow" in your old analog TV, you need to start planning for the great digital TV conversion that is scheduled to happen on June 12 -- bad news for UFO hunters and environmentalists alike.
According to PR newswire, an estimated 22 million households will be keeping their old analog TVs and purchasing a DTA (Digital-to-Analog) converter box. With last year's standard DTA models, that would mean an estimated 3 billion kilowatt-hours of additional energy use.
Fortunately EnergyStar created a standard for more energy efficient DTA's that use less than 8 watts in "on" mode and 1 watt in "off."
There are two schools of thought on the matter. The first is that this is the perfect time to replace your analog TV with a new flat-panel TV. But according to a recent Plenty article, most flat screens will use more energy than an analog TV even with a converter box attached.
Then you have that issue of disposal. Landfills have been inundated in the last few years as Americans ditched their old analogs for fancy new flat screens. And those analogs are filled with lead and mercury.
Both LCD and plasma TVs have been making progress in leaps and bounds in terms of energy efficiency (and price) in the last year, and gains are expected to continue with new technologies like Laser TV. So if you can live without your "Mad Men" in hi-def and hold off a year or more, the eco-friendlier route might be the purchase of a converter.