Three Quick Tips for TV Energy Efficiency

How many hours a day do you really watch TV?

If you’re like us, your TV is probably on when you’re at home. In fact, the average American watches more than 5 hours of television each day. But we’re not always watching, are we? The TV is on in the background while we’re cooing meals, cleaning the house, and getting the kids ready for school.

Because we’re always thinking about home energy performance, here are three quick tips for TV energy efficiency. You can take advantage of these today and start enjoying your home entertainment without the high electricity bills.

Three quick tips for TV Energy Efficiency

    • Is bigger better? As televisions have become larger, it makes sense that they are consuming more power when they’re in use. But most new TVs – and nearly every other piece of electronics equipment in our homes – also draw power when they’re not in use. Standby mode is the culprit here. This is a “power saving” feature that draws just enough electrical current to let the TV jump to life at the touch of a button. But it only saves power relative to the TV being in use. According to the utility company Florida Power & Light, “a new 50-inch flat screen TV uses from $23-$54 of electricity a year, with LED TVs using the least and older plasma models using the most.” Wow!Skip the power save mode and turn the TV completely off. You can use an energy efficient power strip to manage your TV, set top box, DVD player, and home theater system. Turning everything completely off when you leave the house not only saves wear and tear on your expensive electronics, it saves money on your electricity bill.

Energy Star logo

  • Buying new? See stars! Energy Star is a government program that helps consumers save money by saving energy with energy efficient electronics and appliances. Here’s what they have to say about Energy Star certified televisions:

    ENERGY STAR certified televisions are on average, over 25 percent more energy efficient than conventional models, saving energy in all usage modes: sleep, idle, and on. A home equipped with TVs, a Blu-Ray player, a compact audio system, and a home-theatre-in-a-box that have earned the ENERGY STAR, can save more than $200 over the life of the products.

    $200 more in our pockets sounds like a great deal! Look for an Energy Star certified television the next time you are shopping for a new TV.

  • Knowledge saves power! Understanding your TV’s energy usage is easy, and it can help you save money on your electricity bills each month. To find out how much electricity your TV draws, look for the manufacturer’s technical specifications in your user manual, on the rear or bottom panel of the TV, or on the manufacturer’s website. You’re looking for the number of watts the TV requires. The present Energy Star specifications for televisions require that an Energy Star certified television “consume no more than one (1.0) watt while in Standby-Passive Mode” and “On Mode power requirements vary according to screen area.” Bigger TVs will consume more electricity, so a smaller number is definitely better here.

    Alternatively, you can use an electricity usage meter such as a Kill A Watt (TM) to determine your TV’s exact electricity usage. Electricity usage meters simply count the watts your equipment and appliances use and display them to you on a built-in screen. This gives you an exact measurement of your electricity consumption.

With a little research and record keeping, you can understand and control the electricity your television, and all of your home entertainment system, is consuming. When you’re saving money on those bills, you can watch without worrying. Pass the popcorn!

What is Demand Response?

Demand response is a new way for utility companies and co-ops to deliver power to customers. It has the potential to significantly change the way customers and utilities work together. So what exactly is demand response? Pretty much what it sounds like!

What you need to know about demand response

Demand response is a way for utility companies and co-ops to more efficiently deliver electricity to homeowners, based on how much electricity is in demand at any given time. Peak demand in the home is in the morning, when we’re all getting ready for work and school, and in the evening, when we all come home to fix dinner, do our household chores, watch TV, or have the neighbors over for a visit.

It’s common sense: when we’re at home we demand more electricity from our utility. When we’re not at home, that level of demand drops. We might only have the HVAC system on, and the usual appliances and electronics humming along in the background. Demand response helps utilities balance that peak demand in the morning and evening with the lower demand in the afternoon and late at night, when we’re out of the house or asleep.

How you can take advantage of demand response

Demand response programs may be offered by your utility company or co-op. Check out those inserts in your next utility bill! You may be eligible for real savings every month, just by using your dishwasher and laundry machines in times of lower power demand. Your utility might also offer you “time-based rates” which can be more or less expensive, per kilowatt-hour, based on the time of day and the demand on the utility’s power generation capabilities. Most time-based rates (they’re also called “peak pricing,” “variable pricing,” “real time pricing,” or similar names) follow the basic law of supply and demand. When demand is high, in the morning and evening, prices are a little bit higher. When demand is low, in the afternoons and late at night, prices will be a little bit lower.

Utilities offer demand based rates to encourage you to use your major appliances, like your dishwasher and laundry machines, at the low-demand times of the day. This can be a win-win situation. Your utility wins, because they save wear and tear on their equipment. You win because you save money on your electricity costs by using your major appliances in those lower demand times of the day.

What’s next for demand response?

According to the Department of Energy,

The electric power industry considers demand response programs as an increasingly valuable resource option whose capabilities and potential impacts are expanded by grid modernization efforts. For example, sensors can perceive peak load problems and utilize automatic switching to divert or reduce power in strategic places, removing the chance of overload and the resulting power failure. Advanced metering infrastructure expands the range of time-based rate programs that can be offered to consumers and smart customer systems such as in-home displays or home-area-networks can make it easier for consumers to changes their behavior and reduce peak period consumption from information on their power consumption and costs.

Demand response programs are created and managed by utility companies and co-ops. But homeowners, renters, and landlords who choose to participate in utility programs will find real benefits, including saving money on their electricity bills every month.