Teacher, mother, secret lover. The centerpiece of the modern living room. I chose my Pioneer 50" plasma because it closely resembled the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. I have read that larger televisions consume much more energy so I decided to test my own out.
Even when "off," the Pioneer still requires 28 Watts. Turning it on, it jumped up to several hundred Watts. For a few seconds, I was confused that I couldn't get a steady reading on my Kill-A-Watt meter. Then I realized that the power consumption depended on the image on the screen: a bright image needed a lot of power and a dark image needed much less.
For comparison, here are three screens that owners of the Nintendo Wii should be familiar with. The mostly black warning screen only requires 191 Watts while the mostly white menu screen requires 326 Watts. To try to tweak this a bit, I went to the television's energy settings and changed it from STANDARD to SAVE2, lowering the consumption from 326 Watts to 246 Watts.
Black Wii Warning Screen: 191 Watts
White Wii Main Menu: 326 Watts
White Wii Main Menu (TV Set to SAVE 2): 246 Watts
If our family watches TV or plays computer games for about two hours each day, the TV would need 240 kWh to run each year. With SAVE 2 enabled, that drops to 180 kWh. At a cost of $0.11 per kWh, the savings is only $6.
So far, I haven't found a significant pocket savings in my energy reduction search. In her quest to "be green" versus "save green," Megan asked me yesterday how much coal would be saved by making these lifestyle changes. In the link she posted, I found that 1 kWh requires roughly 1 pound of coal. Thus, changing the setting on my television might saves only 60 pounds of coal each year, less than one wheelbarrow full.
Given that my electric bill is much higher than that, I'm convinced there must be a few bigger energy hogs in the house. Since we have a gas water heater, a gas stove, and a gas furnace, I know those are consuming energy but aren't the ones responsible for the my high Duke Energy bill. I'll keep looking for the culprits tomorrow!