Be Careful Before Inviting Alexa Home
Connecting a Smart Speaker to a New TV Can Dramatically Increase TV Energy Use.
Many of the newest TVs on the market offer the ability to be linked with an adjacent smart speaker via a home wireless network. The speaker allows a user to control a TV (e.g., change volume, change channels, search for a show) and in some cases wake it from standby mode, simply via their voice, eliminating the need to find and use a remote control. Testing by the National Resource Defense Council testing at the impact this linkage had on the standby energy levels of 2018 model year televisions.
Almost all TVs on the market today use less than 1 watt in standby mode, waiting for a signal from the remote control, and many models need only 0.2 watts. Yet, some of the TVs tested consumed between 18.8 and 22.9 watts of standby power continuously after being linked to a smart speaker. (Note: This increase only occurred with TVs that can be awakened and controlled by voice command. Those that could not be awakened by voice maintained low standby power levels.) Therefore, the decision to link a smart speaker to a new TV can easily double its energy use.
After initial testing, leading TV makers have been working to achieve much lower standby power levels than the ones recorded. Follow-up testing showed that some of the new models will be able to achieve standby power levels of only 1 to 2 watts while still able to quickly wake a TV and respond to a user’s voice commands.
With smart speaker use expected to continue to mushroom, TV manufacturers should make the necessary design changes to achieve low standby power levels when their TVs are connected to a smart speaker. This way all can enjoy the convenience of waking and controlling our TVs with just our voices and avoid wasting massive amounts of energy and needlessly increasing consumer energy bills.
Alexa uses 2 to 4 W when plugged in and switched on, connected to Wi Fi. The more Alexas you have, the greater the impact to your utility bill.