Our thirst for tablets, laptops and other games consoles seems unquenchable – but you may be surprised to learn that TVs, including set-top boxes and DVD/Blu-ray players, still remain the biggest electricity consumer of our domestic electronic appliances and devices.
They account for 50 per cent of electronics energy use – dwarfing the 27 per cent used by our home computing systems.
Looking at electricity use more broadly across the home, electronics are at the top of the table, representing 39 per cent of consumption. Second are dishwashers, washers and dryers (21 per cent), with fridges and freezers at 18 per cent.
It's the TV figures that Energy Saving Trust Insight Analyst Aled Stephens (pictured) wants to focus on.
He said: “In the Data and Insight team at EST, we look at all sorts of data to help our clients. While looking through the latest figures on electricity usage in the UK, TVs being at the top really stood out. It’s a surprise that overall we use more energy in the UK to power TVs than we do to power all of our computer equipment combined.”
The average new 40'' TV costs around £29 to run each year. An energy efficient A+ rated 40'' TV typically costs £11 to run each year. That’s £122 over the lifetime of the product – a saving worthy of consideration.
But does saving some cash and increasing your energy efficiency mean cutting back on high-tech, desirable features? Aled rebuts this idea.
He said: “People might be thinking that making an energy efficient choice when buying a TV means compromising on other features and screen size, but this just isn't the case. You can get 3D, full HD TVs that still have a high energy efficiency rating. The ratings are shown in-store and on the packaging, D to A+++. Look to the top end of the alphabet.”
However, lots of modern TVs, particularly those with added features, come with eco-start up functions or similar – it’s important to make sure these have been set up, and that you don’t switch them off, otherwise your TV could use much more energy than it states on the energy label.
Figures from communication industry regulator Ofcom and Amazon sales data shows that television sizes have been increasing in recent years. A cause for concern? Not necessarily.
Although it takes more energy to power a larger television, a large energy efficient television can use less energy, and cost less to run, than a smaller less efficient one. For the same energy rating however, a smaller TV will use less energy. For example, a 32” A++ TV will use much less energy than an equivalent 60” A++ TV. But there are other factors that impact on TV electricity use.
Electricity consumption while a TV is on standby has been improved in recent years thanks to Ecodesign regulations and labelling. A new TV uses about 70 per cent less energy in standby mode than one bought before 2007.
There are, however, concerns that putting the television in a ‘quick start mode’ can increase standby consumption.
Elsewhere in electronics, Aled highlights progress in computing – both in terms of technology and buying choices.
He said: “Computers have improved a lot. People are increasingly using tablets and laptops, which use a lot less electricity than desktop computers.”
It's important to remember that no matter how much electricity is being consumed in the home, the biggest energy demand by far comes from heating and hot water.
Aled added: “Over 80 per cent of energy used in the home is for space and water heating – so if you want to make big energy savings, looking at your heating system and your home's energy efficiency is definitely the place to start.
“When that's done, look at that electricity consumption. Then, it's the TV that's the average biggest user. Maybe you shouldn't go out immediately to change your TV, but having energy efficiency at the top of your mind when it comes to a change is definitely a wise idea.”