How to use less electricity Home entertainment energy tips
Entertainment, computers and gadgets will account for 45% of the electricity used in the home by 2020. Unlike white goods, such as washing machines and fridges which are given an official rating for energy efficiency, there's little readily-available information on the energy efficiency of your home entertainment gadgets.
Best for energy consumption
Which? measures the energy consumption of many products and has found huge differences between the best and worst. Our tests on LED and plasma TVs are a good example. We have found an energy-efficient LED model which costs just £4 per year to run. At the opposite extreme, our tests have uncovered a 50-inch plasma TV with an annual running cost of £83 (based on five hours viewing per day).
Read on for tips on how to reduce the amount of electricity your technology uses.
Energy efficient TVs
LED TVs are now the most popular type and they are also far more energy efficient than LCD or plasma TVs. But as a general rule, the bigger the TV, the more energy it's likely to use. Find out which TVs are cheapest to run with our TV energy cost calculator.
Most new TVs of over 32 inches have an ambient light sensor. This automatically adjusts the TV's settings according to how dark or light your room is when you switch it on. Our tests show that using this feature can cut energy use by 30-50%.
You should also consider switching on your TV's eco mode, if it has one. Nearly all TVs have one and it works like an ambient light sensor but usually saves less energy. Unfortunately picture quality suffers in both ambient and eco modes.
The radio blanking feature removes the radio station logo and other information from the screen while you listen to the radio through your TV. If your TV has this feature, it can slash energy use by 50-90%. Even if your TV can't do this, you can dim the screen while listening to some stations by following on-screen instructions.
Read our reviews to find out which are the energy efficient Best Buy TVs.
Computers and laptops running costs
Computers, printers, monitors and laptops make up around 13% of the electricity used in your home, according to the Energy Saving Trust. Laptops typically use 85% less electricity than PCs, making them the energy-efficient choice.
With smaller screens and components, choosing a laptop over a PC could save you around £30 per year.
PVRs, DVD players and set-top boxes
These generally have quite low annual running costs of around £5 per year for personal video recorders (PVRs) and £2 for set top boxes. But they start to add up on your electricity bill because we leave many of these products in standby, rather than turning them off fully.
To find the most efficient appliances, check our energy cost estimates in our individual DVD and set-top box reviews.
Appliances on standby cost households £86 per year, according to a 2012 study by Defra. In total this costs UK consumers £1.3 billion each year.
TVs left in standby are not the electricity-guzzlers they used to be, as long as your TV is a new model. This is because there are now regulations that say electronic products sold within the EU must have a standby power of less than 1W. Our Best Buy TVs use 0.1W to 0.2W in standby. So even if left in standby all year, they would add less than 50p to your electricity bill.Even with lower standby costs, many households still have older, less energy-efficient models and lots of electronic gadgets. And the cost of many boxes attached to your TV adds up so it's worth thinking about switching them off.
16%of home power is used for appliances in standby
Many Freeview set-top boxes and PVRs don't have proper on/off switches because they need to be on to record TV programmes and download over-the-air software updates (which add functionality to the box, update the programme guide and so on).
Which? tests found that leaving certain models in standby can make a huge difference to energy costs. For example, the most efficient PVR we tested cost £2.84 per year. The least efficient costs a total of £19.45 every year (based on five hours on, 15 in standby a day).
If you want to switch your PVR or Freeview box completely off, keep an eye on the Digital TV Group website or manufacturers' websites. They provide a schedule of updates, so you know when you can switch your box off (at the mains if it doesn't have an off button) without missing out.
Sky+ box PVR doesn't have an off switch to save wear on the hard drive, and unfortunately there's not much you can do about this.