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Dovetail Partners Consuming Responsibly Report No. 12

Although video content is increasingly viewed on a vast array of devices, a considerable amount of time is still spent watching content on a standard television. The average U.S. household has more than one TV[1], used not only for viewing of programming and movies, but with video gaming systems and streaming music and music videos as well. The sheer number of televisions in North America and around the world add up to substantial energy consumption as well as emissions linked to electricity production. Peripheral devices used with the television (cable boxes, Blu-ray players, DVDs, DVRs) add to power consumption, and often when no picture or sound is being delivered. 

Technological improvements over the past several decades have dramatically reduced power requirements of televisions, even as screen sizes have doubled and picture resolution sharpened. Energy efficiency of peripherals has also been improved. Yet, continuing pursuit of ever larger, brighter screens appears likely to reverse recent progress in reducing energy expenditure for television viewing. 

In some respects, energy consumption associated with an individual TV is quite modest (for instance in comparison to a water heater). However, considered from the perspective of cumulative impact of televisions in general, consumption can be viewed as rather large. In either case, there are several things that individuals can do to reduce energy use and waste linked to television viewing.

[1]  The terms “Television” and “TV” as used in this report specifically do not refer to computer monitors or video screens that are part of other devices.

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