These days, TVs are filled with apps, extra features, and more settings than most of us ever know what to do. Whether you have a budget model or the best TV on the market, the options can be stunning. One feature that you may have noticed while browsing through the various TV settings is the energy saving option, often referred to as Eco mode.

Saving energy (and therefore saving money as well) sounds like slam-dunk – especially if you’re looking for a greener lifestyle. But what does Eco Mode actually do, and is it worth turning it on?

What is Eco Mode?

A TV with a nature scene displayed on the screen in the living room.

Source: Odrecenzowane / Tim Renzi

Most modern televisions are equipped with settings designed to reduce energy consumption.

Eco Mode is a setting found on most televisions designed to reduce energy consumption. Sometimes it’s a dedicated picture mode, but more often it’s a standalone setting that changes the picture mode itself, among other things. In most cases, this option is enabled by default out of the box.

These settings take many names: eco mode, energy saving step, and brightness optimization, just to name a few.

What does Eco Mode do?

It’s no wonder that the easiest way to reduce TV power consumption is to dim the display. These energy-saving settings do just that: they reduce the backlight of the display, often depending on the amount of light in the room. Televisions that base their energy saving measures on ambient light use hidden light sensors. From the manufacturer’s point of view, Eco Mode also allows televisions to meet certain energy consumption thresholds set by government agencies.

Where can I find Eco Mode on my TV?

Contrary to what you might expect, the TV’s power saving options are usually not available in the picture settings menu. Instead, you can usually find an option under a menu option called General, System, Support, or Advanced. For some OLED TVs (such as LG C2), you can access these settings from the OLED Care submenu, tucked away in Device Self Care.

The TV screen has an energy saving mode menu on the display.

Source: Zrecenzowane / Michael Desjardin

Typically, the TV’s power saving or ambient light detection features are outside of the picture settings menu, as is the case with LG OLED (see here).

If you cannot find any energy or energy saving settings, look for anything related to the TV’s ambient light sensor. Since most energy-saving settings use a light sensor to limit the TV’s brightness depending on the ambient lighting conditions, some TV brands take a simple approach to marking the setting.

Here’s an important thing to keep in mind: Depending on the make and model, the setting of the energy saving sensor / ambient light sensor on your TV may not be global, but rather fixed for the selected picture mode. If you change the picture mode or the input of the TV, check again if the power saving settings have not been restored.

Should I use eco mode for my TV?

In a word, no. At least not if you want the best picture quality from your TV. Before we take the TV through our test lab for analysis, we always turn off any energy saving or light sensing features. We’re doing this because we want to rate the TV at its best, and it’s not the best with just throttling the display.

Take, for example, High Dynamic Range (HDR). This content delivery format is designed to take advantage of the brightness and color saturation of modern televisions. Most of the TVs you can buy now support HDR – even the most affordable models.

Two images of the same frame on the TV screen of a deer without power save mode and with power save mode.

Source: Zrecenzowane / Michael Desjardin

On the left is 4K, HDR content with LG’s power saving stage turned off. On the right is the same content, with the energy saving step set to maximum.

The impressive appearance of HDR is based on a wide dynamic range between the darkest and lightest parts of the image. If the TV is limiting the brightness, the backlights will not appear and the almost black tones will be crushed, resulting in a darker picture. Why invest in the best TV you can buy if you don’t get the best out of it?

Yes, the TV’s energy saving mode saves energy. But if the TV is not turned on all day, the amount of energy it conserves is rather negligible. if you do keep your TV on all day long, there’s a good chance you don’t pay too much attention to it at first, so you might as well leave Eco Mode on.

What are other ways to reduce energy consumption?

If you feel uncomfortable about turning off the energy saving options and want to take some steps to reduce energy consumption, consider setting your TV backlight slightly lower. This will make the display greener without an ambient light sensor that continuously adjusts the image.

Alternatively, you can always turn on the TV’s power saving features for normal everyday viewing (watching the news, doing some sports) and turn them off when it’s movie night. You will save energy in the margins while taking full advantage of your TV hardware for more cherished views.

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published, but are subject to change over time.

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