How much energy does energy saving mode really save on TVs?

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Each television has several different “Picture Modes” to choose from. There is almost always a “Power Saving” or “Energy Saver” mode which tends to look worse. How much energy does this mode really save? Is it worth using?

What is power saving mode?

The picture modes on your TV are preset for different levels of brightness, contrast, and saturation. You can usually adjust these things separately, but the modes do it all for you.

“Energy Saving” mode is designed simply to optimize these settings to save energy. The most obvious way to do this is by dimming the screen. The energy saving mode will normally be the dimmest of all the modes available on your TV.

In a nutshell, whether they’re called “Energy Saving,” “Energy Saving,” or “Eco Mode,” these picture modes mean your TV will use less power. That’s right?

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The data

Enough talking, let’s get to the data. Using a smart plug that can measure power, I tracked the power usage of three different TVs in all of their available picture modes. All three had a “Power Saving” mode, a “Vivid” mode, and a “Standard” mode.

picture mode 43″ 1080p Scepter 50″ Hisense 4K Badge 32″ 1080p
energy saving 35.5w 87.7w 39.7w
Vivid 54.6w 115.7w 48.2w
Standard 54.6w 115.2w 44.7w
Tempered 35.9w
Theater 82.4w 42.2w
Sport 114.8w
Play 114.8w

There are some interesting results here. First, the power saving modes generally use less power than the standard settings. The “Vivid” modes also don’t seem to use much more power than the standard setting, meaning you’re adjusting color more than brightness.

Two of the TVs have a “Theatre” mode that had a similar effect on energy use as the energy saving modes. In fact, the largest 4K TV uses the least amount of power in this mode. This is because cinema modes often dim the screen for dark rooms.

Some of the differences between power saving modes and other modes are not that pronounced. Smaller 1080p TVs don’t have much of a difference between power-saving and higher-power modes. The difference is bigger on the 4K TV, which uses more power overall.

Does it matter?

Woman streaming video content on a TV.
Kaspars Grinvalds / Shutterstock.com

What can we take away from this admittedly small data sample size? First of all, the power saving mode is clearly working something. That may not be very surprising; Of course, a dimmer screen requires less power. Still, it’s good to know that “Power Saving Mode” isn’t an empty marketing term.

Let’s say your electricity rate is $0.18 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) and you have a 4K TV similar to the one in the chart above. Watching TV for four hours a day in power saving mode would cost about $1.90 per month / $23 per year. In the highest power usage mode, you’re looking at around $2.50 per month / $30 per year.

You’re basically saving $7 a year for a slightly worse picture on your TV. Are the energy and money savings enough to make it worth it? That is entirely up to you. If you have a very large ultra high definition television, it might make a big difference. However, if you have that TV, you probably want it to look its best.

Power saving mode could be a good “everyday” mode to use while you switch back to “Standard” or “Vivid” mode for movies or other things you really want to shine. At the end of the day, it saves energy, but it may not be enough for you to care.

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