When you yourself are running low on energy, you probably turn to your most interesting household friend for a little low-key entertainment. That’s right, I’m talking about your television. With no more effort than a flick of your clicker finger, you can easily sink into a Jersey Shore marathon-induced stupor for most of a Sunday. Not that I’d know anything about that. But is this really a low energy activity? That, my friends, is up to your television. While watching TV might require little or no energy on your part, your electric bill might tell a very different story. Could you be guilty of harboring the worst kind of electricity guzzler in your own living room?
TVs have gotten larger in recent years, and with everything from video games to video on demand at our fingertips, many of us are leaving our TVs on more and longer than ever. This means that the energy efficiency, or lack thereof, of our TVs plays a huge role in how much power our households consume. Oddly, what makes TVs so energy hungry is the stuff you don’t see—most of the light your TV produces gets blocked out by the filters that make the colors and the picture, and a large portion of the energy flowing into your set gets wasted as heat.
The good news is that with manufacturers in a constant race to improve efficiency and performance, you no longer have to sacrifice one to get the other. They are starting to go hand in hand. Some new technologies filter light differently; when a higher percentage of the light generated actually reaches your eyes, less energy is wasted. Other new televisions automatically adjust their light output based on brighter versus darker scenes, or even ambient light in your room. With these and other great new developments, there’s really no excuse for ignoring efficiency; you need to make it a top priority.
If you’re stuck with your current TV for the time being, here are some great ways to keep it performing as efficiently as possible:
- Most TVs arrive set to “retail” mode, an extra-bright setting made to stand out under retail stores’ fluorescent lights and surrounded by competitors’ TVs. Take off your sunglasses and use the home setting instead, and then select standard, movie, or cinema mode rather than dynamic, sports, or vivid mode. In our testing, these two simple changes often cut power consumption by 20 to 50%!
- Have your television professionally calibrated or use a test disc to calibrate it yourself. This step can help ensure your television looks best in a fairly dark room, saving energy and helping to replicate the experience of going to the movie theater. Cool!
- Plug your TV and other audio/video components into a smart plug strip. This will help ensure that once you turn the main device off, most of the other devices will turn off automatically as well.
- Find more info on these and other tips here.
If you’re looking into purchasing a new television, programs like Energy Star recognize a rather wide range of energy-efficient products, from moderately efficient to super efficient. This is a great start, but it’s not easy to tell which is which, and if you really want to save substantial energy and money, “pretty efficient” isn’t going to cut it. For lists of the very highest performers—the ten most energy efficient large, medium, and small sized televisions—along with retailer, pricing, and eco-rebate info, visit TopTenUSA.org. The TVs you find here will really help you keep your energy bill down, no matter how many reality TV marathons you get sucked into. Not that you watch those, of course…