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Eco mode: view responsibly

Eco Mode on Your TV: A Guide to Energy-Saving Viewing

Ashley Robinson
February 1, 2024

As energy costs rise and climate change continues to threaten the planet, a lot of us are looking for ways to cut our household energy consumption and reduce our carbon footprint. Our daily lives involve using a lot of appliances and gadgets that consume energy, so reducing our energy usage might seem like a tall order. But fortunately, most common appliances and electronics have some settings that can help maximize energy efficiency and cost savings. Today, let’s talk about a product most of us can’t live without: the TV.

TVs are a central part of household entertainment, and as a country, we use the TV a lot. In the US, there are almost as many TVs in use as there are people, and the average American watches three hours of TV a day. With such high rates of usage, even small energy efficiency improvements can add up for the environment! And while TVs aren’t the biggest consumer of energy in the household, even minor energy savings can add up financially over time, especially if the TV is a big part of your daily routine.

Most newer TVs, specifically ENERGY STAR-rated TVs, have an eco mode setting to help users manage the energy consumption of their TV. So what does this mode actually do, and when should you use it to save energy?

What’s Eco Mode on Your TV?

Eco mode can mean a lot of different things depending on the appliance, but most simply, it’s a setting designed to minimize energy consumption when using a product. In the case of TVs, this setting primarily has to do with managing the brightness of the display.

Most of the energy used by a TV is to light up the screen, so the brighter the screen, the more energy is used. Older models may simply dim the display to a set level, but for the most part, newer TVs use light sensors to dim the backlight depending on the ambient light in the room. You’ve probably noticed a similar feature on your phone– when it’s dark, your phone may dim the display for optimal visibility and energy conservation. When a TV is in eco mode, it will adjust to use the least amount of light (and energy) possible for a good viewing experience.

The brightness of the display is the primary setting, but there may be secondary settings that can help minimize energy consumption as well, depending on the model of the TV. Some brands’ eco mode includes options that turn the screen to standby after a certain time of idling, or if the sensors detect that nobody is in the room. Another useful option within some eco settings is the “black screen,” which will turn the display off when the TV is being used for sound (say, streaming music) exclusively. Additionally, some eco modes might include auto shutoff timer settings, similar to the sleep timer function, to allow users to set the unit to turn off entirely after a certain time.

To find your TV’s eco mode options, you may need to do some digging in the settings. The name and location of the setting can vary from brand to brand. Look in the display or general settings menu for anything like Eco Settings, Eco Mode, Energy Saving, or Brightness Optimization. Sometimes, there will just be an ON/OFF option, and sometimes, there may be a few eco options for you to choose from!

Increasingly, consumers are paying attention to their energy usage, both to save money on energy bills and reduce their household environmental footprint. This means that eco settings are becoming more common, easy to access, and comprehensive. Additionally, energy efficiency ratings and regulations are incentivizing producers to make these settings standard, often meaning that TVs come pre-set on eco mode out of the box.

There’s a good chance that if you have a newer TV, especially one that came with an ENERGY STAR rating, your TV may already be in eco mode. This is great for energy savings, but if you’re a film buff, this may create some problems with your viewing experience. Because the primary function of eco mode is to dim the display, the result can be a compromised picture quality. You may notice that the contrast on your TV isn’t great, or some scenes are too dark to see clearly.

Eco mode is great for everyday, casual watching. Do you like to leave the news on in the background? Or are you on your third re-watch of Parks and Rec? The picture quality on eco mode is totally sufficient, and you’ll save energy and money! That said, for more serious watching, eco mode might not be the best option. Getting ready for a home screening of a new blockbuster movie? You may want to turn off eco mode so you can get the best possible viewing experience. Just don’t forget to turn eco mode on when you’re done.

When it comes to energy usage, eco mode is a great option, but as a general rule, the best way to cut energy costs from your TV is to be mindful of brightness and when the screen is on at all. If your TV is linked to your sound system, look into the “black screen” setting to see if you can turn off the display while still using the sound system. Make use of the sleep or presence-detecting timers if you tend to fall asleep or forget to turn the TV off, and use OhmConnect to make sure your TV is off during events to maximize your savings!

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