The power guzzler question: what do TV, PC and smartphone use

The question about the power guzzler
What TV, PC and smartphone consume

Inflation, high energy costs and concerns about security of supply: Saving on electricity is more relevant than ever. But how much do IT and consumer electronics consume? And how do you like the smartphone?

Those not reached by calls for climate protection may at least be concerned about the extra payment to save electricity. Many have long checked the biggest consumers they know and now want to explore further savings potential: from computers to televisions to smartphones. In order to be able to assess where and how energy can still be saved, it helps to get an overview of how much electricity is used on average for what.

An average two-person household consumes about 3,050 kilowatt hours per month (equivalent to about 80 euros in electricity costs per month), explains the energy advice service of the consumer advice centers. Consumer electronics, such as televisions and game consoles, account for 28 percent, just over a quarter of total electricity consumption. The Federal Association for Energy and Water Management (BDEW) has collected these for the year 2021.

In comparison, according to this study, washing and drying consume 14 percent of electricity, lighting 13 percent and refrigerators and freezers 11 percent. Cooking and washing up follow with 9 and 8 percent respectively. All together 55 percent. Of course, these are all just average values ​​that don’t exactly reflect every household. After all, not everyone has the same devices and uses them to the same extent.

TVs and consoles as power guzzlers

In the consumer electronics category, however, there are also clear differences in consumption, as Joshua Jahn of the consumer advice center in Brandenburg knows: “The biggest power guzzlers are televisions and game consoles.” Operating an average television costs about 80 euros per year. Game consoles cost about $50 a year if you use them every day, says Jahn.

How much electricity a device consumes depends not only on its energy efficiency class, but often simply on its size, explains Jahn: “A very large television with the best energy efficiency class still consumes significantly more electricity than a smaller one. worst-class television.”

In fact, older televisions and televisions with a screen diagonal of more than one meter can consume an average of 200 kilowatt hours per year. For example, according to the Federal Environment Agency, this could be used to run two efficient refrigerators.

Size is often a factor too

Computers also show that size matters when it comes to power consumption. Because a desktop PC consumes significantly more power than a laptop, says Jahn. “A desktop PC with a tower costs me about 35 euros a year, a laptop only 10 euros.”

A computer’s consumption is also decisively determined by its equipment, explains Sebastian Klöß of the IT industry association Bitkom: “An advanced gaming PC with a powerful processor and a huge graphics card simply needs more power than a standard one under full load. PC or notebook trimmed to save electricity.”

The specific application on the computer also plays a role. According to Klöß, complex computer games and expensive video editing programs are so computationally intensive that they are also reflected in consumption.

The device that hardly affects the electricity bill is actually the smartphone. Charging your phone every day uses about 7.5 kilowatt-hours per year, which would have cost about $2.80 a year to run your smartphone at previous electricity prices, Klöß says. Smart speakers, for example, would have just as little impact on the electricity bill. This is clear again: small device, small savings potential.

Turning it off completely is the trick

There is certainly potential for savings elsewhere. Switching off appliances completely instead of leaving them on standby when not in use saves an average of 100 euros per year in a three-person household. Joshua Jahn says this is very easy to implement with power strips that have a toggle switch.

It’s also worth turning off the router at night when not in use, or at least the Wi-Fi. “A router like this may not have high performance, but the fact that it runs 24 hours a day all year round quickly costs 40 euros per year,” explains Jahn. With many routers, switch-off times can be automated in the settings.

Smaller screen uses less power

If you want to save power when streaming at home, you can do that by lowering the brightness and using smaller devices, explains Sebastian Klöß. By watching your favorite series on your laptop or smartphone instead of on the television, it certainly saves on electricity costs. And those who omit the high-contrast function (HDR) on newer televisions also reduce consumption.

But whether you stream in SD, HD or 4K resolution only affects consumption in the data centers, but not your own electricity bill, says Klöß. Those who cut costs here do something good for the environment and reduce their CO2 footprint.

You should take a good look at new purchases, advises Klöß: “When you buy a new appliance, the energy efficiency class is definitely worth checking out – just to know what to expect during normal use of the appliance”. The energy efficiency label indicates the estimated annual consumption of a device.

Many devices have been downgraded

Only recently have the various classes been reformed. “This A-Plus system was abandoned, instead most devices were downgraded to F or G to free up the front classes for new devices,” explains Klöß. According to Klöß, replacing your television with a device that is more economical because of the high power costs is only worthwhile if you still have an old plasma television.

By the way, if you want to know exactly what the consumption is, you can borrow an electricity meter for free from the advice centers of the consumer advice centers and find out exactly how much electricity certain appliances use.

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