TV Energy Guide


That 60-inch plasma TV sure does look great on your wall, and tuning into your favorite series and events has never been quite like this. You may have been too busy keeping up with your Netflix queue or reaching the next level in your interstellar combat video game to feed your entertainment fix. But even after you clean up the popcorn, put away the gaming controls, and turn off your TV, that energy hog is still using electricity. Standby energy use can be substantial on some TVs and peripheral equipment. The simplest way to test standby power is to see if a lot of heat is coming off the device – the more heat, the more wasted energy.

Energy Use of Today’s TVs

Ever wonder how much energy today’s TVs use? Organized by television type and screen size, the information in the table shows how much power ENERGY STAR–qualified TVs consume in both active and standby modes. You’ll notice that not all qualified models are created equal. Just because a TV meets ENERGY STAR guidelines doesn’t mean it’s the most energy-efficient television on the market.

If you’re looking for the most efficient TVs available, check out, which offers ranked listings of the 10 most energy-efficient TVs in three size categories. Can’t find the top 10 models at your local appliance store? Don’t give up—you can still find a highly efficient TV. Start with ENERGY STAR–qualified models, then make sure the energy usage for the TV type and screen size you want falls within the lower 20 percent of the consumption range listed in the table below.

But wait. Your killer entertainment system also has a cable and DVR box, a DVD player, gaming systems, surround-sound speakers, and maybe even an old VHS player. These are energy-hogging culprits too, consuming electricity in both active and standby modes. You can tame their consumption by plugging them, along with your TV, into a “smart” power strip. Unlike traditional power strips, smart strips have one or two sockets that are always receiving power, and three or more sockets that cut off power when the main equipment (in this case, your TV) is shut down or set in standby mode. That means the electricity to your peripheral equipment is automatically cut off when you turn off your TV. You can keep your cable and DVR box powered on by plugging it into one of the full-power sockets, so you’ll never miss a show. Moral of the story: Even if you forget to turn off your Wii after winning your most recent battle, the smart strip will do it for you. Now that’s smart!

What Does the Future Hold?

Television efficiencies have dramatically improved over the past few years, and they’ll continue to do so. A leader in effecting strict energy efficiency regulations, policies, and standards, California is raising the bar on TV efficiency criteria. ENERGY STAR guidelines are tightening up, and manufacturers will need to increase the efficiencies of their products to meet the new standards.

So the next time you’re shopping for a new TV and want to save money on your electricity bill, check out’s lists of the most efficient TVs, look for ENERGY STAR–certified models that fall into the lower end of the energy consumption spectrum, and don’t forget to use a smart power strip!

Power consumption of Energy Star–qualified TVs

While you’re flipping through the channels, your TV is raising your energy bill. Manufacturers continue to improve efficiency in all TV types, but even greater efficiencies will be possible as liquid crystal display (LCD) TVs backlit with light-emitting diodes (LEDs) become more popular and affordable.

Article by Tim Laughlin, appearing courtesy Xcel Energy Blog.

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

1 Comment

  1. Hi

    Good article — thanks!

    One thing you mentioned that I don’t think gets enough attention is the DVR power consumption. Our DISH receiver/DVR uses 55 watts 24/7 — it does not matter whether TV is being watched or not — in the middle of the night its still using 55 watts. 1.3 KWH a day, 482 KWH a year — it consumes more power than our fridge! About 700 lbs of CO2 per year.

    Its hard to do the turn it off at night technique with the DVR as DISH gets upset and you lose recordings that were scheduled for late at night.

    There is an Energy Star program on set top boxes (including DVRs), but only a few manufacturers participate in it, and DISH does not. Direct TV’s DVRs are all Energy Star and use much less power.