You can tweak how much power your TV uses, but should you? Here are all the ways you dial back the amount of power your TV uses, the downsides of some of the tricks, whether it’s worth doing at all, and some smarter ways to save power that don’t impact your TV experience.
Adjusting These Settings Lowers Power Usage
It might not have crossed your mind before, but there are a handful of ways you can adjust your television set to have it use less power both while on and in standby mode.
Not every set will have every option we discuss here, but if yours does, you can shave watts off your TV’s power load.
Enable the Eco Mode
Depending on the design of your particular TV, “eco mode” might simply dim the TV screen down or it might be a handy shortcut that bulk toggles a bunch of the power saving settings we’re about to outline.
If you’re looking for a power-saving cheat code, check what the eco mode on your TV, if available, does beyond simply dimming the screen.
Dim the Screen (Automatically)
If your TV doesn’t have an eco mode, you can always manually dim the screen to better match the ambient light in the viewing room. Not every TV has to be set to the blinding showroom-floor settings.
Some TVs even have an ambient light sensor, much like modern smartphones and tablets, that will adjust the brightness based on the viewing conditions. The TV will be brighter during the day and dimmer at night when the rest of the room is darker.
Enable Auto Power Off and Use Sleep Mode
If you tend to fall asleep while watching TV, no time like the present to use the sleep mode. We won’t judge you if you love falling asleep to the soothing background noise of YouTube videos or your favorite show on loop, but there’s no sense paying for hours and hours of usage every night if you’re already asleep.
And if you have family members, especially kids, that aren’t so great about turning off the TV when they are done, look for an auto-off function that shuts the TV off after a certain number of minutes without any user interaction.
Disable Network Functionality and Casting
A lot of standby power waste goes to keeping a TV ready to accept inputs and turn on at any minute. If you have a smart TV you can cast music or video to, there’s a good chance that TV is using a higher-than-normal amount of power to be perpetually ready to turn on and show you the casted content.
If you’re not using that function, or even the smart TV functions, because you have a Roke, Apple TV, or other streaming device hooked up, you can often put a dent in standby power use by disabling those features and the network connectivity. Why use 8W of idle power 24/7 for a feature you’re not even using when you could disable it and potentially drop the idle power down to 0.5-1W?
Whether you use Bluetooth headphones or tap into the TV’s audio ports, using TV headphones in private listening mode reduces power consumption.
That’s not a great option for game day or movie night, but if you’re just watching by yourself, it saves power and lets you tailor the volume to exactly the level you want without disturbing housemates or neighbors.
Is It Worth the Trade-Off?
In our opinion, it’s worth using energy-reducing options that don’t overly impact the quality of the experience you have watching your TV.
Switching to eco-mode and dimming the screen, for example, can really make the picture look cruddy and washed out. Doing so, on most sets, knocks about 15W off the power load. Let’s say you watch 3 hours of TV a day. At the average energy U.S. energy cost of 12 cents per kWh, watching TV in eco-mode with the screen dimmed for a whole year only saves you about two bucks.
Unless you’re trying to keep your TV on using backup power during a power outage, it’s probably not worth suffering through a dim screen.
On the other hand, if you got the same power reduction from turning off all the standby features you’re not using and shaving 15W off your TV’s idle power load, that’s a different story. Just for turning off features you weren’t even using, you’d save about $15 a year because the savings would pile up every minute you weren’t using the TV—not just when you’re watching it.
And if you turned on the sleep mode so your TV didn’t run an extra three hours a night (or longer) after you’d fallen asleep, assuming your TV uses 80W of power, that’s a savings of $10.50 a year just for using the sleep timer every night.
Know you won’t remember to set the sleep timer every time you use the TV? A smart plug would pay for itself in a year or so if you set a routine to turn the TV off every night at 1 AM.
In fact, speaking of smart plugs, given that phantom loads are a big source of power waste around the home (including with TVs, cable boxes, game consoles, and such), rather than worry about changing a bunch of settings that make watching TV less enjoyable, we’d recommend just turning the whole setup off with a smart plug or power strip when you’re not using it.
By turning off the whole setup, a smart plug could easily pay for itself in a few months. Going forward, you’d save $2-3 a month or more indefinitely—no need to dim the screen and enjoy your TV less.
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