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Not all PVRs are always on, always drawing power

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Posted by Chelsea Watt

You can watch two shows at once, pause live TV, set up recordings weeks in advance — it's no secret set top boxes (PVRs) make watching television a lot simpler.

But it's also no secret that all this convenience comes at a cost — one that's reflected on your electricity bill.

The problem comes from standby power. Your PVR is always on, even if you're not recording or watching a program. About 70% of the energy consumption of a PVR goes to standby energy use.

How much does that cost you?

Just standby power use from one non-ENERGY STAR® set top box costs around $18 per year. It can cost you around $26/year to operate one PVR.

Operating two conventional set top boxes generally uses more energy than it would take to run a new refrigerator.

Reducing standby power use can help cut down your costs. One way to do it? Make the switch to an ENERGY STAR PVR.

ENERGY STAR boxes offer big savings

Last year, the first ENERGY STAR set top boxes were brought to B.C. by Telus and its Optik TV service. These set top boxes are up to 50 per cent more efficient than a conventional PVR.

Using an ENERGY STAR version can mean $125 in electricity savings over five years — for one PVR. Add up the savings if your household has more than one.

It saves energy with the Auto Power Down feature. After four hours of inactivity, the box goes into a low power mode. But your recordings are safe and sound; it still records scheduled programs, so you can be ENERGY STAR and still enjoy the convenience of a PVR.

More electronics means more standby power

It's not just set top boxes that are the problem. Home electronics like PVRs are the biggest area of growth in residential consumption. Entertainment centres, computers, and gaming systems are all standby power culprits.

The average home in B.C. has around 25 devices consuming electricity 24 hours a day. When you add it up, standby power can account for as much as 10% of your annual electricity consumption. Just one high-definition television, PVR and gaming system together can use more electricity than a refrigerator.

How can you save money?

Using smart power strips and turning off your electronics is one way to keep costs down.
For computers and office equipment, using power management can dramatically reduce your electricity consumption

If you're in the market for new home electronics, remember that October is Power Smart Month, and our retail partners are offering great deals on the most energy-efficient televisions and more.

Chelsea Watt is an editor with bchydro.com.