Binge-Watching TV May Require More Energy Than You Think

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By Andrea Vittorio

Sept. 21 — Sitting on your couch binge-watching “Breaking Bad” may require more energy than you think, according to a new study from the Natural Resources Defense Council. What you’re watching and what mode you’re watching in could make your television use up to twice as much energy as it does in government testing, the NRDC and consultant Ecos Research found in a study released Sept. 21. Among the recent 55-inch and larger TV models tested, energy-saving features were disabled whenever users change the default picture setting. “A few seemingly innocuous clicks on the remote control can as much as double the cost to operate a TV over its 10-year lifetime, costing owners an extra $100 to $200 in energy bills,” the study said.

That is because the clip used to test energy performance in a lab is more like watching a commercial than watching “Breaking Bad,” CNN or the Rose Bowl. The researchers suggest that manufacturers such as Samsung, LG and Vizio may be benefiting from this flaw in the test used for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star labels, which tell consumers which models are more energy efficient.


“While the manufacturers’ exploitation of loopholes might not be illegal, it certainly smacks of bad-faith conduct,” said Noah Horowitz, senior scientist and director of the NRDC’s Center for Energy Efficiency.

LG Disagrees With Findings

LG disputed the report’s findings, saying it has followed “both the letter and spirit” of energy-testing procedures. The report also “fails to point out how LG is addressing energy-saving features, both for current and future products,” a company spokesman said. Samsung and Vizio did not return requests for comment. The three companies together represent half of all new televisions sold in the U.S. The Energy Department and the EPA, which manages the Energy Star label, are aware of the issues and are updating their policies.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrea Vittorio in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at

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