This article has been updated to show the new cost to run based on the October Energy Price Cap. It has also been fact-checked and any out-of-date information removed.
Whether it’s binging your favourite show or catching up on soaps, our TVs are on frequently. However, with energy bills spiralling over the last couple of years, many of us have been left wondering how much electricity does a TV use? And more importantly, how much is that Netflix binge really costing?
While we can tell the general idea of energy usage in your home through a smart meter, but there's more you can do that just watching those numbers add up. Especially since this will take into account all appliances running at that time.
Most of us watch a lot of TV. In 2021, media regulator Ofcom found the average watching time for TV and online videos 5 hours 16 minutes per person per day. meaning that over a week, a TV could be on for almost 36 hours.
We’ve worked out how much you can expect to spend per hour or evening to watch your TV to help you save energy and money.
How much electricity does a TV use?
The first aspect to consider when working out how much electricity does a TV use is the size.
'Televisions can be the most power-hungry of all entertainment equipment, particularly the largest ones,' says Brian Horne, Senior Insights & Analytics Consultant, Energy Saving Trust.
'The larger a television screen, the more energy it will consume, regardless of its energy rating. Even the most efficient 60” TV is still more expensive to run per year against the lowest rated 32" television. By choosing a smaller television, you are generally saving more energy.'
The other element that affects energy usage is the type of TV.
- LED TVs are the most common flatscreen type. They use an LCD display with LEDs providing the backlighting.
- There are also QLED TVs with smaller LEDs. OLED TVs are similar to LED screens in that they also use an LCD display but don’t require backlighting.
- You may still own a plasma TV or an LCD TV (as opposed to LED lit). Both of these use more power than the LEDs above.
How much does a TV cost to run?
TVs are rated for energy efficiency on a scale of A-G, but since the scale was revised in March 2021, most will have an E-G rating. For an idea of energy usage, look at the kWh/1000h number on the label to work out how much it’ll cost to run over an average year (1,000 hours is around 2-3 hours per day or about 19 hours a week).
To go from knowing how much electricity does a TV use through to what it's costing you, you will need to know what you pay per kWh, you can find this on your energy bill. From October 2023 the energy price cap changes, taking the highest price you could pay per pence/kWh to 27p. We have therefore used 27p to work out the highest amount it could cost to run a TV after the energy price cap increase.
- An example 55” LED TV (rated G) uses 103kWh over 1,000 hours of viewing. This means that it’ll cost £27.81 when in use.
- A similar 55” QLED TV (rated F) uses 77kWh over 1,000 hours of viewing, costing £20.79 to run.
- Size up and the impact is noticeable. A G-rated 75” LED TV uses 171kWh over 1,000 hours of viewing, meaning that the cost is £46.17. An E-rated QLED 75” uses just 107kWh in comparison, costing just £28.89.
Leaving the TV on standby will increase the annual running cost. ‘TVs and game consoles, which are usually left on standby, account for a worrying 19% of total electrical use in the average household, or 9% of the nation’s energy bill,’ says Matt Manning, Group Carbon and Environment Manager at Currys.
‘Switching off electronics that are on standby can save an average household up to £65 a year.’
What energy saving features should I look for when buying a TV?
Reduce the cost of your evening’s entertainment by looking out for these handy features that the best TVs will all carry.
1. Automatic brightness control
An overly bright TV costs more to run, so look for those that have light sensors to detect the room’s brightness and adjust the screen accordingly.
2. Sleep timer
Whether you’ve nodded off or forgotten to switch off the TV before leaving the room, a sleep timer or a smart plug will turn the TV off after a few hours of no interaction.
3. Power/energy saving mode
Rather than keep toggling the brightness settings on your TV, this mode will dim the backlight to help reduce your power consumption by up to a third. Great for the daytime, which can then be switched back at night if needed.
How can I cut the cost of running a TV?
1. Don’t leave it on standby
‘A typical LCD screen uses around £50 of power every year and many modern TVs don’t even have an off button and instead are left on standby,’ explains Ben Gallizzi, Energy Expert, Money. ‘The only way to be sure you’re not using power when the TV is not in use is to switch it off at the wall.’
2. Turn down the brightness
If choosing a smaller TV screen isn’t an option, one way to save is to turn down the brightness. Factory settings are typically brighter than is necessary for most homes. Take it down to the lowest you’re happy with to reduce power consumption.
3. Have the TV on less
While we’re not suggesting you limit yourself to one show a night, there are many of us who flick the TV on out of habit without really watching it. If it’s background noise you like, try putting on the radio, music or a podcast instead of reaching for the remote.
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Rachel Ogden is a freelance journalist with more than 20 years’ experience of writing, editing and sub-editing. Since 2007, she's worked exclusively in interiors, writing about everything from extending your home to kitchen worktops, flooring, storage and more. She specialises in product reviews, having reviews hundreds of small and large appliances and homeware.
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