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Your home entertainment systems could be a hidden source of energy wastage as they suck up power from the grid, increasing your electricity prices.

These devices consume more energy than you may have thought, and are responsible for using more electricity than your dishwasher, washing machine and clothes dryer combined.

Televisions have fast become big consumers of electricity and are now the fourth biggest electricity user in Australian homes, according to the Department of Industry.

Computer products and home electronics are other items that use a lot of electricity, and comprise around 15 per cent of the global household energy use these days.

Here are some tips to make your use of devices such as TVs, game consoles and computers more efficient, without compromising your leisure time.

Televisions

Being one of the biggest users of electricity in your household, this is one area where you will want to see if you can make cutbacks.

To gauge how much of an impact this equipment will have on the bills you receive from your electricity supplier, it is worth noting that a big screen TV left on for six hours every day will generate half a tonne of greenhouse gases, which is more than your family fridge.

Using this item efficiently is one way to cut down its environmental impact as well as the cost of running this device.

Ensure it is switched off at the wall when not in use, as this kind of equipment will still draw power from the grid when it is left on standby.

If you enjoy the company the TV provides when you are busy doing other jobs, why not consider turning the radio on for background noise or switching the picture off the TV so you are only running the sound?

These are less energy intensive ways of entertainment, so when you do an energy comparison you might be surprised by lower bills.

Another step to take could be to use the inbuilt speakers rather than relying on more energy intensive home entertainment options that use more power to run.

Unless you want the full blown cinematic experience, these less powerful speakers should do the trick.

If you have two or more TVs in your house, consider using a smaller one when you're watching those day-to-day programmes, such as the news. This will use less power, particularly if you have angled the screen away from the sun so you don't need to change the resolution.

TVs with a 'quick start' option are more power hungry as they prepare or being switched on, leaving it warm and ready for when you flick the switch. This is one way to draw excess power from the grid as the device is left on standby.

Another option to turn off is 'movie mode' or other picture mode settings in a similar vein as these high resolution settings use more power.

Game consoles

As with televisions, these devices use power when on standby, so ensure they are switched off when not in use.

If you are planning to take a quick break and you're in the middle of an important game, save it. This way you can switch off the machine and come back to the game later. Make sure you look for games that allow you to save your progress at any given point.

Some of these consoles have an auto-shutdown mode, which means they will turn off by themselves when not in use. This energy saving feature can put the appliance to sleep after a certain period, for example 15 minutes, and turn off after an hour or so. You may be able to download this software.

Don't rely on your console as a blu-ray or DVD player as they use more than three times the amount of power as a stand-alone movie player, so this is an inefficient use of your machine that could see you spend more on your electricity prices.

Computers

While these machines are now an integral part of many people's day-to-day lives, they are also a big user of electricity.

Here are a few simple steps you can take to reduce the impact of these devices on your energy bills.

Make sure you switch off your monitor if you plan on leaving your computer for more than 20 minutes as this can help you to reduce your energy consumption.

Contrary to popular belief, screen savers do not actually save electricity, but were designed to prevent older LCD screens from a phenomenon  called 'burn in' where images could be burnt into the screen if it was left on for too long. Active screensavers still use full power to run.

As such, the best way to save electricity when your computer is not in use is to set your screensaver to a black screen, which will make your device more efficient.

If you are not using bluetooth or wifi functions, switch them off. These draw a considerable amount of power from the grid to run, so it is best to avoid using them where possible.

Similarly, any items that are plugged into the usb port, such as mice, keyboards or flash drives are best unplugged if not in use.

Posted by Liam Tunney.