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Televisions: Use & Care

Use & Care

How you use your TV determines how much energy it uses. New televisions tend to come with energy-saving features, but some are manual settings — so just be sure to remember to activate them. Behavior and use patterns, however, are especially important when reducing energy use with older units. Below are some power-saving tips from CNET, which shouldn’t affect your TV’s picture quality or your viewing experience.

Get Turned Off (It’s a Good Thing)

Turn your television and electronics all the way off when not in use. See small electronics & appliances for more on phantom energy use. Many new LCD and plasma TVs use less than 1 watt when turned off (that’s about $1.50 per year in energy) but your DVD player or game consoles could be using much more. Therefore, plug your entertainment system electronics into a surge protector with a switch to turn them all the way off when not in use.

Dimmer Down: Room Lighting

Before increasing the light output of your television, consider turning down the lighting in the room. Keeping the room darker not only feels more like a movie theater, but it also allows you to cut your TVs energy use without compromising its image quality.

Not Too Bright: Customize Light Output

Reducing your TV’s light output may allow you to also reduce its energy use by up to half (depending on your current use, of course), since most TVs come with bright default settings (sometimes called Contrast or Picture) that use more energy. While some people have their TVs professionally calibrated to their living rooms’ lighting, CNET’s website also provides recommended settings on all their recent model reviews. Believe it or not, the brightness control actually has less impact on TV light output than the other two settings do.1

Make a “Night Out” of It

It doesn’t take much effort to turn your TV all the way off. Ditch multiple TVs and watch movies together with your friends or family instead. You can also consider limiting your TV and video game use or just giving them up altogether in favor of other energy-saving  activities.

Stop the Quick-Start

Many new TVs have a quick-start mode that allows them to power up quicker when they are in standby mode, but using the regular method of powering on the TV could save up to 50 times the energy that it would otherwise use in quick-start mode.2

Save Power with Power Save

Many TVs come with a “power save” mode. There is no standard for this mode, so the image quality and energy savings seem to vary greatly across different manufacturers and models.

Dial Down the Backlight

Turn down the backlight setting on LCDs with backlight controls. This will decrease the brightness but will save energy and possibly improve image quality. Keep adjusting the backlight until it looks right to you. Often, you can reduce your TV’s light output if you also turn down the room lighting.

Buyer’s Guide

Before you shop for efficiency upgrades, visit the Television Buyer’s Guide for easy facts and figures that can help you choose the best electronics for your home, needs and budget.


If you’re thinking about making efficiency improvements, the Television Overview is a great place to get acquainted with the basics and your options, before you buy a new TV for your home.

1CNET.  (2010).  Energy Efficiency Guide: The Basics of TV Power.  Retrieved September 28, 2012, from http://reviews.cnet.com/green-tech/tv-power-efficiency/ 
2CNET.  (2010).  Energy Efficiency Guide:  TV Power-Saving Tips.  Retrieved September 28, 2012, from http://reviews.cnet.com/green-tech/tv-power-saving-tips/

This program is funded by California utility customers and administered by Southern California Edison under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission.

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