Energy-saving tips for your TV, computer and laptop, which could help you cut what you spend on electricity.
There are plenty of energy-draining appliances around the home, but while so many of them are essential it's the non-essentials we use for entertainment that consume a significant portion of our household energy.
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In an average home, the TV, DVD player, set-top box etc account for around 8% of the energy bill, while computers, laptops and printers make up another 5%.
However, with a few simple changes you can make sure that your entertainment system doesn't cost the earth. Here are our top seven energy-saving tips for your TV.
Seven energy-saving tips for your TV
These energy-saving tips are simple to set up but will save you energy year after year.
Switch off your TV when you're not watching, this will do more to reduce energy use than anything else. We all know the temptation to leave the TV on in the background , especially while you're doing other things, but just remember it comes at a cost.
Manufacturers have improved standby efficiency - in most new TVs energy usage is typically below 1 watt - so this is an option if you have a new TV, but if you have an older model, this mode may be using energy unnecessarily.
Switching to standby is better than leaving your TV on, but it's still more energy-efficient to switch it off completely.
Make sure the brightness of your TV is right for your room as the factory settings are typically brighter than necessary.
Also make sure you switch on the ambient light sensor - if you're viewing your TV in a darker room with the sensor switched on it can dramatically reduce power consumption by adjusting the contrast of the picture automatically.
If you're listening to the radio through your TV, make sure you use the radio screen blanking feature - it's a handy way to save energy. Listening to the radio is one of the nicest features of digital television, but it also has the potential to waste a huge amount of electricity.
If you're buying a new TV, think about the size and type of screen you choose. An energy-efficient 32-inch LCD will typically use half the power of a model with a 42-inch plasma screen.
In general, the smaller your TV, the less it will cost you to run, but the type of television is also crucial, as is it's age.
Rather than using the normal viewing setting on your TV, switch it to energy-saving mode, this usually dims the backlight which means the power consumption should drop by a third. Although you may have to switch back at night it's certainly the best feature to use during the day.
If you're buying a new TV, look for the energy-saving Trust recommended label, that way you can be sure you are buying a TV with optimised energy-saving features.
Energy-saving tips for your computer or laptop
It's not just your TV that uses a lot of energy though. Your computer and laptop can be just as energy-draining if not used correctly.
- 1. The easiest choice to make is between a desktop and computer monitor or a much smaller laptop. A laptop is more energy-efficient than a desktop and monitor set-up.
- Laptops, desktops and monitors are becoming increasingly energy-efficient, especially when you compare LCD or LED monitors with the old-style tube or CRT monitors. So again, if you have an older model is might be worth thinking about upgrading to a newer, energy-efficient model.
- Newer machines also have reasonably good power options, so they switch on and power down fairly quickly, making it less tempting to just leave your computer on unnecessarily. This is a sure fire way to waste energy. You're far better off simply turning your laptop off when not in use.
- Computers effectively use similar power whether they are busy or idle. If you leave them doing nothing, they are using almost as much as if they are number crunching or accessing information, that's why 'sleep' mode is so useful.
- Use your power-saving setting: these are usually found in your computer preferences, and there are normally two options, either sleep or hibernate mode, both will turn off the monitor within a specified number of minutes of inactivity - with an old tube/CRT monitor energy usage may fall by half.
- Don't forget to switch off your computer and any peripheral devices, such as your printer and scanner, overnight. Check your back-up settings and make sure it is set up to run as soon as your computer is switched on again (in case your computer is switched off at the designated time).
Using an energy monitor
If you want to know exactly how much energy your TV, laptop, r computer is actually using the best way is to use an energy monitor.
Energy monitors show you exactly how much money your energy consumption is costing you more or less in real-time.
An energy monitor will usually consist of two parts: a screen to show you your consumption linked to a separate unit that clips onto your electricity meter.
Energy monitors cost between £30 and £100 and are easy to install and use, but simply getting an energy monitor isn't enough, you also have to use it effectively. You may even be offered an energy monitor and advice on how to use them effectively from your energy supplier.
Energy monitors in an of themselves won't save you energy, but they will show you what devices and habits are costing you’re the most money.
If you just want to measure a few individual devices you can use plug-in meters that sit between the socket and the plug of the device being measured. If you do opt for a plug-in device try and find one that uses mains power. You can also get multi-socket adapters to measure multiple devices.