TV with Energy Star logo.
Dima Moroz/

Every TV has a number of different “Picture Modes” to choose from. There’s almost always an “Energy Saver” or “Power Saving” mode that tends to look the worst. How much energy does this mode actually save? Is it worth using?

What Is Energy Saving Mode?

Picture modes on your TV are presets for different brightness, contrast, and saturation levels. You can usually adjust these things separately, but the modes do it all for you.

“Energy Saving” mode is simply designed to optimize these settings for saving power. The most obvious way it does this is by dimming the screen. Energy Saving mode will typically be the dimmest of all the modes available on your TV.

Simply put, whether it’s called “Energy Saver,” “Power Saving,” or “Eco Mode,” these picture modes imply your TV will use less energy. Is that true?

RELATED: What Does "Game Mode" On My TV Or Monitor Mean?

The Data

Enough talk, let’s get down to the data. Using a smart plug that can measure wattage, I recorded the energy usage from three different TVs at all of their available picture modes. All three had an “Energy Saving” mode, “Vivid” mode, and “Standard” mode.

Picture Mode 43″ Scepter 1080p 50″ Hisense 4K 32″ Insignia 1080p
Energy Saving 35.5w 87.7w 39.7w
Vivid 54.6w 115.7w 48.2w
Standard 54.6w 115.2w 44.7w
Mild 35.9w
Theater 82.4w 42.2w
Sport 114.8w
Game 114.8w

There are some interesting results here. First of all, Energy Saving modes across the board are using less energy than the standard settings. The “Vivid” modes also don’t seem to use much more power than the standard settings—meaning it’s adjusting color more than brightness.

Two of the TVs have a “Theater” mode that had a similar effect on power usage as the Energy Saving modes. In fact, the bigger 4K TV uses the least amount of power in this mode. That’s because theater modes typically dim the display for dark rooms.

Some of the differences between Energy Saving modes and other modes are not as pronounced. The smaller 1080p TVs don’t have major differences between Energy Saving and the higher power usage modes. The difference is bigger on the 4K TV, which uses more power overall.

Does It Matter?

Woman streaming video content on a TV.
Kaspars Grinvalds/

What can we take from this admittedly small sample size of data? First of all, Energy Saving mode is clearly doing something. That may not be super surprising—of course a dimmer display requires less energy. Still, it is nice to know “Energy Saving Mode” is not an empty marketing term.

Let’s say your electricity rate is $0.18 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) and you have a 4K TV similar to the one in the chart above. Watching TV for four hours a day with Energy Saving mode would cost around $1.90 per month/$23 per year. At the highest energy usage mode, you’re looking at around $2.50 per month/$30 per year.

You’re essentially saving $7 a year for a slightly worse picture on your TV. Are the energy and money savings enough to make that worth it? That’s entirely up to you. If you have a very large, ultra-high-definition TV, maybe it makes a big enough difference. However, if you have that TV, you probably want it to look the best it can.

Energy Saving mode could be a good “every day” mode to use while you switch back to “Standard” or “Vivid” mode for movies or other things you want to really shine. At the end of the day, it does save energy, but it may not be enough to matter to you.

RELATED: How to Get the Best Picture Quality from Your HDTV

Profile Photo for Joe Fedewa Joe Fedewa
Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has been covering consumer technology for over a decade and previously worked as Managing Editor at XDA-Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews.
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