Entertainment Systems

Today’s entertainment systems typically revolve around a television with a supporting cast of a set-top box for cable/satellite reception (often with an integrated DVR), streaming devices, gaming consoles, and speakers. Even if the total impact on the energy bill is relatively small, there are still ways to reduce that impact.


The television has seen perhaps the greatest evolution with several technologies coming and going. Today, most televisions use a liquid crystal display (Led), a light emitting diode (LED) display, or a hybrid. Projection units are also available for home theater application but represent a small portion of the market.

To maximize the energy efficiency of your television, go into the settings and turn off the instant-on function, if it exists. If your television comes on immediately when you turn on the power, it has this power-hungry feature. Manufacturers add this capability so customers do not have to wait for their set to “warm up.” Unfortunately, it uses a lot of power in exchange for a few seconds of warm up.

Set-top Boxes

Subscribers to cable and satellite television services will most likely have a set-top box of some type. This device decodes the programming signals, allows the user to manipulate their channels, and record programs for later viewing with the built in DVR, if it exists. There isn’t too much you can do to save energy with these devices other than turning them off, a step that defeats the purpose of the DVR. Streaming may enable you to eliminate the box.
Gaming Consoles

Believe it or not but a gaming console can use as much energy as a refrigerator. And their power consumption continues unabated even when they appear to be turned off if they are set to automatically update. Similar to the instant on feature of televisions, many consoles come from the factory in a mode where game and system updates are applied automatically. Turning this setting off will save a considerable amount of energy. The downside is that when you start the console, it may require a lengthy upgrade period.
Wireless Speakers, Internet Radios, and Vampire Loads

Nearly electronic every device sold today comes with a power adapter, those little cubes of varying sizes that plug into the wall and convert 120 VAC to the required VDC level. When all these chargers are considered together, they can represent 2-5% of a household’s energy use. Sometimes referred to as phantom or vampire loads, they go unnoticed because they are generally out of site or inaccessible in some way.

Unplugging them is the most assured means of reducing vampire load and is a good strategy for cell phone chargers. However, entertainment adapters are frequently in hard to reach places making unplugging difficult at best. Here is where smart plug strips come into play. They look like a typical plug strip but have a unique feature, a master outlet. Only the device that is connected to this outlet gets power all the time. When it is turned on, power is connected to every other outlet. This is perfect for entertainment systems where the TV or set-top box occupies the master outlet.