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TV decoder is the home’s second biggest power user

2014-06-19 04:00
Cape Town – With South Africa's broken, rundown and out of capacity electricity grid under strain and Eskom constantly warning that, like Scotty, it cannot provide more power and that consumers should switch off more households appliances, there is one more thing you can switch off but probably never will: your pay-TV decoder.

The TV decoder and digital personal video recorder (PVR), sitting there under your TV set, happily humming along, has become the second biggest electricity user in your home, with millions of these devices constantly consuming electricity, day and night, all month long, even when in standby mode.

According to The Los Angeles Times, these energy hungry feeders have become the second biggest electricity using appliance in the modern home according to a study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

As part of the new age of a "connected culture" The TV decoder is the one device consumers don't really think about when it comes to electricity usage, and although not a necessity, the TV set (and by implication the TV decoder box) is the last thing electricity squeezed consumers will probably ever turn off.

Often, even when they're turned "off", that little red or other light that keeps blinking in fact means that the device is still consuming electricity and is in standby mode.

The only real way to stop the electricity flowing is to unplug the power cord.

That however buys into the modern-day consumer's psychological fear of literally being "unplugged" – cut off from the outside world and being connected.

It also makes it more difficult or more cumbersome to reconnect – the long starting up and reboot cycle and the potential loss of downloaded programmes and updates makes it a non-starter for the majority of pay-TV subscribers.

TV decoders and PVRs keep using power

TV decoders and PVRs keep using power even when in standby mode since the hard drive inside keeps spinning along.

Electronic programme guides (EPG) are constantly being updated, and software downloads and on-demand programming downloads happen late at night and during the early hours of the morning which means that its better for the device to stay connected to electricity.

Just like big buildings and companies which will never turn off all the lights, its highly unlikely that millions of TV viewers will ever all completely turn off their TV decoders. And with the strong growth in pay-TV in South Africa and across Africa, the overall power consumption of all of these devices together, looks set to grow on the continent.

Consumers have some limited control. Check the power settings under the general settings options for how long your TV decoder stays in active mode after its not been used.

TV decoders can be placed in standby mode, set to never go into standby, or to go into standby after a set period of time.

Standby mode likely uses less electricity (although it also comes with a certain loss of functionality) – perhaps a small price to pay if you want to pay less for electricity.

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