How much money will I save by unplugging my TV and accessories?

How much money will I save by unplugging my TV and accessories?

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Your TV and all the devices connected to it can easily use 30W or more of standby power. Unplugging your TV and devices when you’re not using them can save you over $30 a year.

TVs and all the various supporting devices and accessories can carry a surprising phantom load, increasing our electricity bills even when we are not using them. Here’s how much you can save by unplugging them.

Here’s how to estimate your savings

There are so many sizes of televisions with so many different generations of power optimization. Combine that with the huge number of potential accessories that could be part of your general TV setup like consoles, streaming sticks, media receivers, soundbars, cable boxes and so on, and it becomes impossible for us to give you a straight answer like “You save $38 per year by unplugging everything when you’re not using it.”

But we can talk about the average standby power consumption of common devices so you can roughly estimate how much standby power your media center setup uses in standby mode. And if you want a more accurate look at your exact hardware, in the next section we’ll talk about how to skip the estimation and measure your devices directly.

First, let’s look at the averages for different units. Keep a running total of the number of watts (W) for all the devices below you have. Then we estimate how much it costs to stand idle 24/7 for a year.

The TV: Standby load ~10W

Let’s start with the TV itself. How much standby power TVs use varies widely.

Some models barely draw power in standby mode and use less than 1W, while others use as much as 20W. It’s safe to estimate that yours is likely using around 10W.

Set-Top Box: Standby load ~10W

Set-top boxes for cable and satellite services are notorious energy vampires. Fortunately, the situation has improved a lot since the mid-2010s.

Nevertheless, it is not uncommon to find set-top boxes with idle power consumption as high as 25W, although there are now lighter models with better power optimization that idle around 5W. It is safe to estimate that your box is probably using around 10W.

Streaming Sticks: Standby load ~1W

Streaming sticks, dongles and boxes use very little power. The idle draw is usually at or under 1W, and even the more power-hungry models, like the Roku Ultra, still only idle at 3W.

Of all the things you have connected to your TV, streaming media players have among the lowest idle power requirements.

Game consoles: Standby load ~12W

If you have adjusted the settings of your game console to use the most energy friendly options, the idle load is probably around 0.5-1W.

But if you use one of the console options like the Xbox’s “Instant On” or the PlayStation’s “Rest Mode,” you use a lot more power to keep the console in an always-ready mode.

Stereo receiver: Standby load ~25W

If you have a stereo receiver feeding the speakers connected to your TV setup, we recommend that you actually measure it using the techniques and tools highlighted in the next section. Stereo receivers vary game in how much standby power they use.

You might have a device that uses less than 1W of power in standby mode, or you might have a device that doesn’t really have a standby mode to speak of, and if you leave it on and ready, you’re drawing 75W or more. For this estimate, we stick to 25W as a middle ground.

Soundbar: Standby load ~5W

Soundbars use less power, for the most part, than stereo receivers, but power consumption is all over the map. Some models use as little as one watt, while others have a much higher standby power of around 10W.

Estimation of the idle load cost

So let’s add up all these estimated power loads. Let’s say you have the TV (10W), plus a cable box (10W), a games console with quick start mode (12W) and a streaming stick (1W). That’s 36W standby power.

Now we just need to use a simple equation, which you’ll be familiar with if you’ve read our guide to measuring your energy usage, to see how much 36W of idle power costs us over the course of a year.

We need to multiply the watts by the time the devices drawing watts are on and divide that by 1000 to convert watts to kilowatt hours (kWh), which is the unit your utility bills you in. There are 8,760 hours in a year, so we should us which is our time value.

(36W * 8760H)/1000 = 315.36 kWh

Now we simply need to multiply the number of kWh by the price our electricity company charges per kWh. The national average is 12 cents per kWh, so we will use that.

315.36 kWh * $0.12 per kWh = $37.84

Over the course of the year, the idle power consumption of our TV set and related accessories burns nearly $38 doing nothing but idling there.

Here’s how to measure exactly how much you’ll save

Estimating is all well and good, but if you don’t actually measure your units, you simply won’t know the real story. In our experience, manufacturer-supplied standby numbers are overly generous (and assume you’re using the device with every single power-saving option turned on). There is too much variation between devices to get the true answer without measuring.

Fortunately, it’s incredibly trivial to accurately measure how much energy household appliances use.

Whether you want to know how much energy the media center in your den draws when idle, how much energy your movie projector uses while watching a movie, or even something unrelated to media, like how much energy your basement dehumidifier using , all you need is a simple watt meter and a few minutes of time to find out.

You can test individual devices or, if you want to know how much power all the devices in your media center are using, you can plug them all into a power strip if they aren’t already connected to one and test the entire strip at once.

When I did, I found out that the plethora of consoles, chargers, media players and such that I have connected to my main TV, combined with the idle power of the TV itself, was costing me about $40 a year.

And here’s what to do about it

If the culprit is a TV and cable box in a lesser-used area of ​​the house, perhaps a guest room or den that doesn’t get much use except for game days, the obvious solution is to just unplug the devices in question and save $20-40 a year or whatever it can now be.

If it’s an area that gets used more often and you don’t want the hassle of having to crawl around and plug things in, you can always put some or all of your devices on a smart strip or smart plug.

Let’s say your setup only wastes $10 in standby power per year. Even then, a smart plug would pay for itself in a year just by cutting away the waste at the wall.


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