What’s the most eco-conscious way to watch TV?

Thinking green is smart. Even if you think that it’s not your job to save the planet, you can still think green, by saving a ton of “green” money if you cut your energy expenditure. You have the power to cut that electric bill down and you don’t have to sacrifice. Let’s talk about how you can do it.

Is that big TV really what you need?

Bigger is better. We all get that. But maybe there’s a point where you don’t need to be watching on the 84″ TV. I’m not saying you need to go out and buy a smaller one, but you probably have several TVs of different sizes in your home. I know that as I keep getting bigger ones for the living room, I move the older ones to other rooms. At this point the smallest TV in my home is 40″. You might be in the same situation.

The funny thing about TVs, or anything that comes in different sizes, is that the math isn’t what you think it is. An 80″ TV doesn’t have twice the area of a 40″ TV. It has four times the area. And in general that means it uses four times the electricity. Sure, TVs keep getting more economical but a bigger one is still going to cost more than a smaller one. And a TV with fancy features like local dimming is going to cost more to run than one with a simple LED backlight.

Antennas are better than satellite (for energy use…)

If you’re watching live local TV, add energy efficiency to the list of reasons to use an antenna. Antenna TV always has the best picture quality and you get the signal a few seconds before your friends with cable or satellite. And now, you know that you’re also saving money.

When you get your live TV from an antenna, you’re using the minimum power necessary. Even if that antenna is amplified with a 2 watt power supply, that’s not a lot of electricity. An unamplified antenna, on the other hand, uses absolutely no electricity. The TV still uses the same amount of power but there’s no cost to receive the signal at all.

Satellite is better than streaming, too

Streaming isn’t very energy efficient at all. Not only are you using the energy it takes to decode the stream and show it on your TV, but you’re using energy all up and down the line. Your local internet service provider needs energy to run the switches and nodes, and the data centers that provide the stream need to run and also be cooled. While streaming may not be as bad for the environment as burning a gallon of gas (no matter what you’ve read) it’s still a very inefficient way to get video to you.

Satellite and antenna systems use one broadcast system and then all you do is put a receiving antenna up. There’s no cost to get that signal to you other than that. Streaming systems also use broadcast backbones to get those signals to their distribution centers, then they push all that content through the internet. It’s a very inefficient process.

Which is better, phone or TV?

This is a really hard question to answer. Watching TV on your phone uses less energy than using a large TV. However, all video delivered to your phone is streaming so there’s an energy cost there too. Plus, televisions are directly powered from the wall while phones use batteries. Those batteries don’t charge perfectly; some of the energy used to charge them doesn’t end up in the battery pack.

I would say that in a really general sense, watching a modest sized TV is probably better than watching on your phone especially if you are using that TV to watch using an antenna.

Get what you need to stay eco-conscious from Solid Signal

At SolidSignal.com, you can find all the gadgets and devices you’ll need to live your greenest life. And, at Solid Signal, we’re doing our best to stay eco-conscious too, with our green shipping policies and our energy-saving initiatives in our Novi, Michigan corporate offices. You can feel good buying from Solid Signal!


About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.