Television technology just keeps getting better. Ultra high-definition TVs have arrived, smart tech is fully integrated into many new models and televisions are slimmer and lighter each year. But even though today’s TVs do more than ever before, there’s one thing they’re not doing a lot of — drawing electricity.
Compared to other electronics and appliances in the typical home, TVs account for a small slice of the energy consumption pie. Most modern TVs consume fewer than 250 watts, which adds up to just a few dollars a month per TV for even the most dedicated couch potatoes.
How Much Energy Does a TV Use?
If your TV (or the TV you’re thinking about buying) was sold in 2011 or later, there’s an easy way to get a close estimate of what it will cost you in energy consumption. Since then, the Federal Trade Commission has required TV manufacturers to participate in the EnergyGuide program, which creates standardized energy consumption labels for display at the point of purchase. In stores and online, look for the yellow and black EnergyGuide label to get an idea of how many kilowatt-hours (kWh) a TV uses, and how much it will cost to operate.
For televisions, EnergyGuide bases its estimates on an electrical utility rate of 11 cents per kWh and five hours of use per day. But if you know the wattage of a specific television, you can calculate a more accurate estimate based on your own electrical rate and TV watching habits.
How Much Electricity Does a TV Use per Hour?
You can verify the wattage of a TV you already own by looking for the label on the back of the device. The wattage is the number with a “W” at the end. Simply multiply the wattage by the number of hours you watch TV per day to determine your watt-hours. Divide that number by 1,000 to find your kilowatt-hours, then multiply that figure by your energy provider’s kWh rate to see how much it will cost you to use the TV per day.
For example, say you watch a 200-watt television for three hours per day and pay an electrical rate of 10 cents per kWh:
- 200W x 3 hours = 600 watt-hours
- 600 watt-hours / 1000 = .6 kWh
- .6 kWh x $.10 = $.06
This television would cost you only six cents per day to operate, or $21.90 per year.
Factors That Determine Your TV’s Energy Consumption
Consumers who run their TVs frequently may worry about energy costs, especially if they tend to leave their sets running for their pets or as background noise while doing other things. But how much does it cost to leave the TV on all day? Using our example of a 200-watt TV and EnergyGuide’s standard of 11 cents per kWh, running the TV for 12 hours per day would cost you $96.36 per year.
Of course, how much power a TV uses will vary by other factors:
- Age: Older models might require 400 watts or more, doubling the cost of our example above.
- Size: On the other hand, the most efficient televisions on the market use far less power, as low as 15 watts for a 15-inch LED-lit screen, which brings your daily costs down to a negligible number. A more typical example might be a 30-inch LED, which weighs in at about 50 watts.
- Screen type: LCD screens have nearly the same power profile as LEDs, while CRT and plasma screens typically use about three times as much energy as their more efficient LED cousins.
Energy Efficiency Tips for Your TV
Once you understand how much electricity a TV uses you can make an informed decision on how much effort you want to put into energy conservation. Even though the energy costs of modern TVs are low compared to other home appliances, it never hurts to conserve energy when and where you can. With that in mind, here are a few key tips to help minimize your TV energy use:
- Turn off all TVs when nobody is watching. It’s the single most effective way to reduce energy use.
- Check the efficiency rating. When shopping for a new TV, check the federal ENERGY STAR website to see if the models you’re considering meet their energy conservation standards.
- Avoid plasma TVs, as these use more energy than other modern flat-screen models. Instead, look for TVs that use OLEDs, the latest in energy efficient TV technology.
- Be mindful of your TV’s settings, especially brightness, which affect energy efficiency. You can set the TV brightness lower if you dim the lights in the room.
- Disable “always-on” features. Disabling “always-on” features like voice control and quick startup can ensure that your TV draws no power when it’s turned off. Since this will only spare you a tiny amount of energy, don’t sacrifice the convenience of these features if you use them.
Since today’s TVs are already relatively energy efficient, there’s only a few dollars worth of difference to be saved by stressing over these details. As part of a larger program to bring your utility bills down, however, every little bit counts.