How much money will separating TV and accessories save?

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The TV and all 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 upwards of $30 a year.

Televisions and all the various support devices and accessories can take on a surprisingly dummy load, increasing our electric bills even when we’re not using them. Here’s how much you can save by separating them.

Here’s how to estimate your savings

There are many sizes of TVs with many different generations of power optimization. Combine that with the huge number of potential accessories that may be a part of your general TV setup like consoles, streaming sticks, media receivers, amplifiers, cable boxes, etc. and it becomes impossible for us to give you a straight answer. Like “You’ll save $38 a 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 estimate how much standby your media center setup is using. And if you want to get a more accurate look at your exact hardware, in the next section, we’ll talk about how to skip the estimate and measure your hardware directly.

First, let’s take a look at the averages of the different devices. Keep the total watts (W) of all the devices below. Then we’ll estimate the cost of giving them away 24/7 for a year.

TV: Standby Load ~ 10W

Let’s start with the TV itself. The amount of standby power that TVs use in standby mode varies widely.

Some models barely draw power in standby mode and use as little as 1 watt, while others use up to 20 watts. It is safe to estimate that your device will likely use about 10W.

Decoder: Standby Load ~ 10W

Cable and satellite service receivers are notorious energy vampires. Fortunately, since the middle of 2010, the situation has improved a lot.

However, it is not unusual to find decoders with idle power consumption of up to 25W, although there are lighter models with better power optimization of just 5W. It is safe to estimate that your box is probably using about 10 watts.

Streaming sticks: standby load ~1W

Flow sticks, dongles, and boxes use very little energy. The draw is usually idle at 1W or less, and even the most power-hungry models, like the Roku Ultra, still idle at just 3W.

Of all the things you’ve connected to your TV, streaming media players have the least idle power demand.

Game hardware: standby load ~ 12W

If you tweak the settings on your gaming console to use the most appropriate power options, the idle load will probably be around 0.5-1 watts.

But if you’re using any of the console options like Xbox Instant Play or PlayStation Rest Mode, you’re using more power to keep the console always on standby.

Stereo Receiver: Standby Load ~25W

If you have a speaker feed stereo receiver that came with your TV setup, we encourage you to actually measure it using the techniques and tools described in the next section. Stereo receptors are different violently in how much spare power they use.

You might have a unit that uses less than 1 watt of power in standby, or you might have a unit that doesn’t really have standby to speak of, and leaving it running draws 75 watts or more. For the purpose of this estimate, we stick to 25 watts as the middle ground.

Speaker: 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 less than a watt, while others have a much higher standby power of about 10 watts.

Estimating the cost of idle load

So let’s put all of these rated power loads together. Let’s say you have a TV (10W), as well as a cable box (10W), a game console with a quick start mode (12W), and a streaming stick (1W). That’s 36 watts of standby power.

Now we just need to use a simple equation, which you know if you’ve read our guide to measuring your energy use, to figure out how much 36 watts of idle power it costs us over a year.

We need to multiply the watts by the time the wattage drawers are turned on and divide that by 1,000 to convert watts to kilowatt-hours (kWh), which is the unit your electric company bills you for. There are 8,760 hours in a year, so it will be us who are the value of our time.

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

Now we simply need to multiply the number of kilowatt hours by the rate our electricity company charges for each kilowatt hour. The national average is 12 cents per kilowatt-hour, so we’ll use that.

315.36 kWh * $0.12 per kWh = $37.84

Over the course of the year, the idle power consumption of your TV and included accessories burned nearly $38 without doing anything but slowing down there.

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

Estimation is all well and good, but unless you actually measure your hardware, you won’t know the real story. In our experience, the backup numbers provided by the manufacturer are very generous (and we assume you’re using the device with every single power saving option turned on). There is a lot of variance between devices to get the correct answer without measuring.

Fortunately, it is incredibly trivial to accurately measure the amount of energy used by household appliances.

Whether you want to know how much energy a media center draws into your den when it’s idle, how much energy a movie projector uses while watching a movie, or even something unrelated to media, like how much energy a basement dehumidifier is using, it’s all You need is a simple wattmeter and a few minutes to find out.

You can test individual devices or you can plug them all together, if you want to see how much power all the devices in your media center are using, into a power strip if not already plugged into one device and test the entire strip at once.

Doing this is how I found out that the plethora of consoles, chargers, media players, and that’s what I plugged into my main TV, combined with the idle power of the TV itself, cost me about $40 a year.

Here’s what to do about it

If the culprit is a TV and cable box in a less-used area of ​​the house, perhaps a guest room or relaxation room that isn’t much used besides game days, the obvious solution is to unplug the appliances involved and save $20-40 a year or whatever it may be.

If it’s a frequently used area and you don’t want the hassle of having to crawl around plugging things in, you can always put some or all of the appliances on a smart strip or smart plug.

Let’s say your setup wastes only $10 in spare power each year. Even then, a smart plug will pay for itself in a year just by cutting that waste at the wall.


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