When looking to buy a new flat panel television, many consumers are concerned that the cost of operating these large displays will greatly increase their electricity bill.

According to a group of plasma television makers, this belief is not true and that current Energy Star plasma televisions actually use considerably less electricity than the 36-inch color TV picture tube set that was state-of-the-art technology only a decade ago.

To qunatify its belief, the coalition hired Roam Consulting Inc. to carry out test with five new late-model 50-inch plasma TVs from Samsung, Panasonic, Hitachi, Pioneer, and LG. The consulting firm performed a series of test including power consumption tests.

The purpose of the power consumption test was to determine the average power consumption of a 50-inch plasma TV when operated over an eight-hour period. Each plasma TV was set to operate in its “daylight”, “normal”, or “standard” mode. The test signal was an eight-hour loop of programming from cable TV, recorded to a hard disc drive. A widely available power consumption meter with automatic data logging was used for this test.

The consulting firm found that power consumption over an 8-hour time period ranged from a low of 292 watts to 505 watts for an average of 399 watts. Current consumption ranged from 2.45 amperes to 4.17 amperes for an average of 3.31 amperes.

Over an eight-hour period, the average kilowatthour rating was 2.94 for all five plasma TVs. Assuming a base rate of eight cents per kilowatthour ($0.08 kWh); the average cost of operation was 23.6 cents for the group. Multiplied by 30 days, the average cost of operation (8 hours/ day x 30 days) was $7.08 for the group.

The study showed that current big screen Plasma models are even more energy efficient than some 27-inch picture tube sets sold just a few years ago.

The plasma display coalition claims that plasma TV manufacturers have reduced plasma display power by more than 20 percent, year over year since 2007.

"A 42-inch to 50-inch Plasma HDTV will consume less than half the energy of the most popular type of big-screen tube TV sets sold just a decade ago,” said Jim Palumbo, President of the Plasma Display Coalition.

Although paid for by the Plasma Display Coalition, the findings are consistent with other independent findings which have found that today's Energy Star flat panel televisions consume less energy than large tube televisions of the past.

For example, CNET in its comparison of HDTV power consumption reported recently that the Panasonic TH-50PZ850U cost just under $36 a year to operate for eight hours a day / 365 days per year.

Discuss Plasma televisions in our Plasma television forum .