How Much Electricity Does Your TV Waste When You’re Not Watching It?

When you work all day and dream about watching your favorite streaming show, your TV is sitting there with electricity waiting for you to come home. Here’s how to figure out how much money he’s losing.

Why does my TV consume power when I’m not watching?

Unlike many other electrical devices in your home, such as lamps or window regulators, your television does not have an automatic on/off switch. Instead, your television and many other similar electronic devices, such as USB boxes or video players, have a sleep mode.

At a minimum, your TV should maintain a “phantom load” of enough power to ensure it can respond to the remote control and maintain basic functionality. At the more demanding end of the scale, your TV may consume more power to maintain a network connection for on-demand media or other convenient TV functions such as ensuring that the voice assistant always has I can’t answer you.

The irony is that smart TVs have allowed TVs to retain their status as energy vampires. In the past, TVs used power to keep a large tube of the set hot and ready to go so you didn’t have to sit around waiting for the tube to heat up. Although the tube part of TV has been around for a long time, the advent of flat screen TVs with great features has brought the power of TV vampires into the 21st century.

How much standby power is my TV using?

The most accurate way to determine your TV’s standby power is to measure it yourself. In our experience, the manufacturers seem to play a little free with their power plans – it seems that the data they provide is in the best condition with all power-consuming features turned off.

P3 International P4460 kills one watt
From your TV to your refrigerator, you can use this handy little meter to measure the power of your appliances and devices. If you’re curious, we recommend getting a Kill a Watt meter and following the instructions in our guide to measuring your home’s energy usage.

Generally speaking, all we can say with authority is that your TV consumes power when it is plugged in. We measured several TVs and found that standby power ranged from a few watts to around 20W. Average TV standby power is around 14W. Our findings are consistent with data from the National Resources Defense Council and their partnership with the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, where the TVs they measured had an average power of 12.5W in standby mode.

However, the range they found was much larger. Although some sets use 20W in sleep mode, the new system with the “smart sleep” feature effectively consumes only 0.2W in sleep mode. That’s a pretty big difference. Assuming your TV sits idle for 20 hours a day, and your electricity costs 12 cents per kWh, a 20 W TV that doesn’t work will cost you $17.52 a year, a 0.2 W TV that does inactivity would only cost $0.18 per year – less than a quarter.

So we wouldn’t recommend running out of buying a new TV entirely to save standby power, especially if you really love your current TV, it’s worth checking the standby power stats on the next set you buy. On average, people own their TV for 5-7 years, so a set with better power consumption can save you about $100 over the life of the set.

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