Televisions have become much more energy-efficient, and it's easier than ever to buy smart when purchasing televisions, thanks to Energy Star labeling that was instituted last year. Those TVs will be even more efficient in a year, when more stringent energy efficiency rules go into effect in May 2012.
The same cannot be said for DVR and cable boxes, which a new study finds waste two-thirds of the electricity they consume. That wasted energy costs American consumers $2 billion annually, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council study.
The energy is wasted when the devices aren't in use. The problem is that they are designed to run in standby mode that uses nearly as much energy as when they're powered on, according to the study. It would take six coal-fired power plants (enough to supply all of Maryland's electricity needs) to produce as much energy as is wasted.
Another shocker: HD-DVRs (high definition digital video recorders) actually use more energy than the televisions themselves!
NRDC is using its study to push the industry to improve energy efficiency standards for these devices, particularly by designing them to power down more fully when the devices are not in use.
In the meantime, ask your cable or satellite TV companies to supply set-top boxes that meet the Energy Star Version 4.0 standard.
Alternately, the only option is to plug all your entertainment equipment into a power strip, and turn that off whenever possible to avoid wasting electricity. (It could save $100 or more annually.) You can also try more innovative power-saving smart plugs with timers that can help you keep the power flowing only at those times when you're watching or recording a show; examples include the Belkin Conserve Socket ($10 at amazon.com) or the ThinkEco Modlet ($50 at thinkecoinc.com).
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