Entertainment systems are all about pleasing your senses. Watching TV or listening to an audio system not only stimulates your brain but also impact your eyes and ears. Over the years the brightness of TVs have increased to provide extra simulation to the eyes. People are getting attracted by bright television displays in electronic stores and thus manufacturers have steadily increased the brightness of TVs. And not just that, in general the newer generations have started liking louder sounds and thus the sound systems have also improved and have become louder. No, we are not going to discuss the impact of these on people’s health (which certainly gets impacted by bright light and loud sound), but about the impact of bright light and loud sound on the electricity consumption of the appliances.
More light means more watts
Traditionally we have always associated more light or brightness with watts. When we wanted more light, we bought a bulb of higher wattage. When we wanted less light, the wattage required was less. The same thing applies to any appliance that radiates light: be it a TV or a computer or for that matter your mobile phone or tablet. When you keep it at a brighter setting, it will consume more electricity. If it is a mobile phone or tablet, it will discharge frequently. If it is a TV or computer, it will consume more electricity.
Once when we were trying to measure electricity consumption of a TV, we had an interesting observation: we were expecting that when the TV is switched on, its power consumption (or wattage) will remain constant, but interestingly we found that with every scene change, the wattage was changing. When the scene was bright, the electricity consumption was more, when the scene was dark, the electricity consumption was less. So darker the scene, electricity consumption was lower.
A group of energy conscious technologists launched an energy saving version of Google a few years back and named the project Blackle (www.blackle.com). The website is google search engine with a black background. They claim that if every user switches to black version of google, the world will save 750 Mega Watt- hours of electricity every year! This shows that brighter you keep the screen, more electricity it will consume.
Default brightness settings on appliances
Most TVs/computers come with a default setting that are much brighter in general. Such setting may look eye catching in a store, but they are not generally suited for domestic viewing. It is very important that you set up the TV/Computer to optimal brightness/contrast as soon as you get it in your house. This will not only be good for viewing but will also reduce the electricity consumption by the television.
Even for mobiles and tablets, it is very important that you adjust the brightness in such a way that the visibility of the screen is good, but you still do not keep it at highest levels to avoid excess battery drain.
Energy Saving setting on appliances
Many TVs and computers these days have energy saving mode or setting. Leading television brands have energy saver modes that reduce the brightness of TVs in order to save electricity on the television. Some TVs have eco sensors that increase or decrease the brightness of TVs by sensing ambient light and thus reducing the power consumption of the TV. Even computers/laptops have energy saving setting in control panel using which one can reduce the electricity consumption by the computer/laptop screens. For mobile phones/tablets, there are several apps available on iOS/Android stores that can help auto adjust brightness of the screen to reduce power consumption and increase battery life.
Even sound levels impact electricity consumption
While testing the power consumption of a television, we also did another variation: we increased and decreased the sound level of the TV. To our surprise we found that the electricity consumption increased as the sound level increased, and it decreased when we decreased the sound. So we decided to do a similar test on a music system and a home theatre system. And the results were similar. The louder you go on sound, the more electricity an audio system would consume, the lower you go on volume, the lesser electricity it consumes. And it sound so logical because if we imagine ourselves: we need a lot more energy to shout, but very less energy to murmur. So decrease the volume levels of your TV/Audio System/Mobile Phone if you want to consume less electricity or want its battery to run longer. Just remember we shout when we want our neighbors to hear what we are saying, but when we have to talk within ourselves, we just have to talk softly. So keep the volume loud only when you want your neighbors to hear what you are listening to or watching :).
Extra bright screens and loud sounds not just impact your health, but they impact your electricity consumption as well. Change the default settings of your appliance and adjust them to better lower levels so that they are good for your eyes and ears as well as your wallet.