More efficient TV viewing with PVR technology

A 31″ CRT TV can use over 200 watts of electricity, larger televisions use more energy. LCD and plasma televisions uses up to 2/3 less energy, but so far they are still several times more expensive than their similarly sized CRT counterparts. The most obvious way to reduce your energy consumption regarding the TV is to simply watch less. I don’t watch much TV anyways, however I made an upgrade to my home entertainment system last year that has reduced energy consumption, freed up more of my time, and even lets me see my favorite TV shows, whenever I want.

I have a Personal Video Recorder, or PVR, from my cable company. Probably the most well-known PVR system is the TiVo, but all PVRs offer the same benefits. The benefit that I’ve used to save energy and tme is the fast forwarding function. A 30 minute program is reduced to an average of 20-22 minutes by fast forwarding through commercials and credits, reducing the time the TV is on by around 30%. This frees up about 10 minutes for every 30 minutes I would have otherwise spent watching TV, which ends up being an additional 90 minutes per week.

A PVR is essentially a computer using specialized software and hardware, and like any other computer it goes into a low-power standby mode which further reduces energy consumption. Rather than waiting for a favorite show to start with the TV on, I just set the PVR to record it and then it will wake up and record the show by itself to be watched whenever it’s convenient.

One thing that many people don’t know, is that TVs and other electronic devices can draw power even when in “sleep” mode. Conventional TVs draw up to 12 watts while they’re switched off, EnergyStar TVs draw 3 watts or less. The only way to eliminate this phantom load is to plug the TV into a switched power bar, and flip the switch when the TV isn’t in use. Since cutting the power to the PVR would prevent it from switching itself on, the PVR should be on a separate power strip that is left on. A personal computer, which is what a PVR is, draws between 1-6 watts in standby mode. Combined with a power strip switch for the TV, this results in increased energy savings as well as retaining the increased functionality for your home entertainment.

Happy viewing!

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Steve holds a degree in Environmental Engineering Technology from Humber College in Toronto, is a LEED Accredited Professional and a Certified Sustainable Building Advisor. He currently lives in Victoria BC and works as a green building consultant specializing in residential projects.


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