There are plenty of energy-draining appliances around the home. And while so many of them are considered essential, the ones we most often use for entertainment also consume a significant portion of our household energy.
In an average home, the TV, DVD player, set-top box and so on 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.
Switch off your TV when no one's watching — this will do more to reduce energy usage than anything else.
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.
Turn down the brightness of your TV. The factory settings are typically brighter than necessary for most homes. 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 its 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 a good 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.
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 surefire 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, which are usually found in your computer preferences. There are normally two options, 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).
If you want to know exactly how much energy your TV, laptop, or computer is actually using you might turn to your smart meter. Smart meters can show much money your energy consumption is costing you in real-time via the in-home display.
The government target is for every home in Great Britain to have been offered a smart meter by June 2025. More than 15 million have already been installed - if your home is one of them, you can keep tabs on exactly how much your devices, appliances and more are costing you.
When you have a smart meter with an in-home display, you can also make full use of Utrack, Uswitch's new mobile app. It connects to your smart meter and provides personalised energy-saving advice that will allow you to change your energy usage and keep bills at a manageable level. Find out more by clicking below.
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