My TV takes a while to start. You press the button on the remote and it makes a noise and over the next 20-30 seconds it starts up. Fine. But actually I had to switch it on with by the big button on the front first so I was technically switching it on twice. Same when I switch it off. Red button on the remote and then big button on the front of the TV. So I’ve given it up and don’t use the remote to switch it on or off anymore and just press the big button.
But it makes you think about why I had to that in the first place, why have two buttons to switch it off? It’s actually quicker just to use the big button so it can’t be for speed. The reason is that we’re lazy and it’s easier to have an off switch on the remote than have to get off and switch it off.
But the problem is that a TV uses almost as much energy while its on standby as when it’s on. So switching it off by the remote doesn’t save you much electricity and doesn’t help the environment either. In fact if every household in the UK turned off the TV at night instead of leaving it on standby, it’d save enough CO2 to fill the Millennium Dome 38 times every year. If you can understand that fact that is. It’s about 800,000 tonnes of carbon in the UK alone. So what can you do?
Well apart from just pressing the big button on the front, you can choose your next TV more carefully. If you need a new TV, the trend is to go for a nice flat panel LCD or plasma screen. The bigger the better. But can you find the off button? Some have them located out of the way on the top or the side, but getting more common are TVs with no off button at all. Why?
Two reasons really. With these massive screens mounted on walls, manufacturers don’t know where to put the off button so don’t include them at all. And secondly, especially for TVs with built-in Freeview or hard drives, software updates or upgrades happen overnight. These ‘over air’ upgrades are needed and happen overnight – so if your TV is off that won’t happen. That’s also why your Sky+ doesn’t shut down when you think it has – although Sky have started remotely shutting off boxes during the night now to save energy, TV makers should take note.
And they have. By the start of 2008 electronics company LG is re-introducing standby buttons due to “the increase in environmental issues and awareness from both consumers and organisations alike”. Pioneer is trying to get all its products on standby to under 1 watt, and Toshiba has reduced the amount of energy used by TVs when they’re on standby – if you put them on standby that is.
What if you don’t want to put them on standby? There are new products out there that won’t let you put your TV on standby but they’re not here yet.
But it’s not just about TVs. Doing things like using your microwave as a clock and leaving lights, radios and computers on wastes even more energy.
So switching off is not only better for the environment, but better for your wallet too.