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

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Each TV has a number of different ‘Picture Modes’ to choose from. There is always a Power Save or Power Save mode that looks the worst. How much power does this mode actually provide? Is it worth using?

What is power saving mode?

Picture modes on your TV are presets for different levels of brightness, contrast, and saturation. You can usually set these things separately, but the modes do all that for you.

Power Saving Mode is simply designed to optimize these settings to save power. The most obvious way to do this is to dim the screen. The power saving mode is usually the darkest of all the modes available on your TV.

Simply put, whether it’s called “Energy Saver,” “Power Saving,” or “Eco Mode,” these picture modes indicate that your TV will use less power. Is that correct?

Related: What does “Game Mode” mean on your TV or monitor?

data

Enough talk, let’s move on to the data. Using a smart plug that can measure wattage, I recorded the power usage of three different TVs in all of their available picture modes. All three had a “power saving” mode, a “vital” mode, and a “standard” mode.

photo mode 43 mace 1080p 50″ Hisense 4K 32 Insignia 1080p
Energy saving 35.5 watts 87.7 W 39.7 W
Clear 54.6 W 115.7 W 48.2 W
Basic 54.6 W 115.2 W 44.7 W
Nice 35.9 W
stage 82.4 watts 42.2 watts
sports 114.8 watts
Game 114.8 watts

There are some interesting results here. First of all, power saving modes across the board use less power than standard settings. The “Vivid” modes don’t seem to use much more power than the standard settings – which means they adjust color more than brightness.

Two of the TVs had a “theater” mode that had a similar effect on energy use as the energy-saving modes. In fact, a larger 4K TV uses the least amount of power in this mode. That’s because theater modes usually dim the screen in dark rooms.

Some of the differences between the power saving modes and the other modes are not clear. Smaller 1080p TVs don’t have much difference between power saving modes and higher power usage modes. The difference is even greater on a 4K TV, which generally consumes more power.

Does it matter?

A woman broadcasting video content on TV.
Casparis Grinvalds / Shutterstock.com

What can we glean from this admittedly small sample size of data? First of all, the power saving mode is obviously working Something. This may not be too surprising – of course a dim screen requires less power. However, it is good to know that “energy saving mode” is not 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 above graph. Watching four hours of TV per day with energy saving mode costs about $1.90 per month / $23/year. In the highest energy usage mode, you’re looking at about $2.50/month/$30/year.

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

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

Related: How to get the best picture quality from your HDTV

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