How much money can you save by unplugging your TV and accessories?

A bright living room with TV and media console.

Your TV and any 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 over $30 a year.

Televisions and all the various supporting devices and accessories can carry a surprising phantom load, adding to our electric bills even when we’re not using them. Here’s how much you can save by unplugging them.

Here’s how to estimate your savings

There are so many sizes of TVs with so many different generations of power optimization. Combine that with the sheer number of potential accessories that could be part of your overall TV setup like consoles, streaming sticks, media receivers, soundbars, set top boxes, and so on, and it becomes impossible for us to give you a straight answer like “You’ll save $38 all the time.” ‘year unplugging everything when you’re not using it.”

But we can talk about the average standby power consumption of common devices so that we can roughly estimate how much standby power your media center setup uses in standby mode. And if you want a more precise look at your exact hardware, we’ll talk about skipping the estimation and measuring your devices directly in the next section.

First, let’s look at the averages for various devices. Maintain a running total of the number of watts (W) for all underlying devices. Then we’ll estimate how much it costs to keep them idle 24/7 for a year.

The TV: ~10 W standby load

Let’s start with the TV itself. The amount of standby power used by TVs varies widely.

Some models barely draw power in standby mode and draw less than 1W, while others draw as much as 20W. It’s safe to estimate that yours probably uses around 10W.

The set-top box: ~10 W standby load

Set-top boxes for cable and satellite services are notorious energy vampires. Fortunately, since the mid-2010s, the situation has improved a lot.

However, it’s not unusual to find set-top boxes with idle power consumption of up to 25W, although there are now lighter models with better power optimization hovering around 5W. It’s safe to estimate that your box is probably using about 10W.

Streaming Stick: ~1W standby load

Streaming sticks, dongles and boxes consume very little energy. Idle draw is usually 1W or less, and even the most power-hungry models, like the Roku Ultra, still only idle at 3W.

Of all the things you’ve plugged into your TV, streaming media players have some of the lowest idle power demands.

Game console: ~12W standby load

If you’ve changed the settings in your game console to use the most energy-efficient options, the idle load is probably around 0.5-1W.

But if you’re using one of the console’s options like the Xbox’s “Instant On” or the PlayStation’s “Rest Mode,” you’re using a lot more power to keep the console in an always-ready mode.

Stereo receiver: ~25 W standby load

If you have a stereo receiver that powers speakers connected to your TV setup, we encourage you to actually measure it with the techniques and tools highlighted in the next section. Stereo receivers vary wildly how much standby power they use.

You may have a unit that uses less than 1W of power in standby mode, or you may have a unit that doesn’t really have a standby mode to speak of, and leaving it on and ready reduces 75W or more. For the purposes of this estimate, we’re sticking with 25W as the middle ground.

Soundbar: ~5W standby load

Soundbars use less power, more often than not, than stereo receivers, but power consumption is everywhere. Some models consume just one watt, while others have a much higher standby power of around 10W.

Estimate the cost of the idle load

So let’s put all those estimated power loads together. Let’s say you have your TV (10W), plus a cable box (10W), a game console with a quick start mode (12W), and a streaming stick (1W). That’s 36W 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 consumption, to see how much 36W of idle power costs us over the course of a year.

We need to multiply the watts by the time the watt-draining devices are turned on and divide by 1000 to convert watts to kilowatt-hours (kWh), which is the unit in which your electric company bills you. There are 8,760 hours in a year, so we are our time value.

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

Now we simply need to multiply the number of kWh by the price our electric company charges per kWh. The national average is 12 cents per kWh, so we’ll use that.

315.36 kWh * $0.12 per kWh = $37.84

Over the year, the idle power consumption for our TV and connected accessories burns to nearly $38 doing nothing but idle there.

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

Estimating is perfectly fine, but unless you actually measure your devices, you simply won’t know the real story. In our experience, the manufacturer-provided standby numbers are overly generous (and we’re assuming you’re using the device with every single power saving option turned on). There is too much variability between devices to get the true answer without measuring.

Fortunately, it’s incredibly trivial to measure precisely how much energy household devices consume.

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

You can test individual devices, or you can plug them all, if you want to know how much power all the devices in your media center are using, into one power strip if they aren’t plugged into one already, and test the entire strip at once.

By doing this I’ve found that the plethora of consoles, chargers, media players, and the like that I’ve plugged into my main TV, combined with the idle power of the TV itself, cost me about $40 a year.

And here’s what to do about it

If the culprit is a TV and set-top box in a less used area of ​​the house, perhaps a spare room or rec room that doesn’t get used much other than game days, the obvious fix is ​​to simply unplug the devices in question. and save $20-40 a year or whatever it may be.

If this is a more frequently used area and you don’t want the hassle of having to swipe to plug things in, you can always put some or all of your devices on a smart strip or smart plug.

Let’s say your setup only wastes $10 on standby a year. Even then, a smart plug would pay for itself in a year just by cutting waste to the wall.