NRDC: Connecting Smart Speakers to TVs Could Cost Pretty Penny

SAN FRANCISCO—How much would you be willing to pay to stop having to dig through your couch to find the TV remote? According to a new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council, the cost may actually be more than purchasing a smart speaker to hook up and control the TV.

In its report, “Energy Impacts of Smart Speakers and Video Streaming Devices,” the NRDC does find that most smart speaker (i.e. Amazon’s Alexa) and video streaming devices are energy efficient. Despite being turned on at all times, most only consume $1.50-$4 worth of electricity annually as smart speakersuse less than 2 W of electricity while they are in standby mode waiting for a command, while streaming devices (Roku, Google Chromecast) consume 3 W or less in standby.

But that conservation can be made moot if consumers are linking smart speakers to some TVs to access voice commands. When connected with some newer TVs, pairing a smart speaker with the TV can result in standby mode generating 1 W to more than 20 W, possibly doubling a TV’s overall annual energy use and add about $200 in energy costs over a TV’s lifetime. More broadly, such energy increases could have an impact on the annual national electricity consumption could increase by three to six coal-burning power plants’ worth of electricity. As a result, $1.3 billion to $2.5 billion could be added to U.S. consumers’ electric bills each year with one-fourth or half of TVs connected to smart speakers.

To address this, NRDC says that TV manufacturers must address this problem with updated designs.

“Our report should be a wake-up call for all TV manufacturers to improve their products to support hands-free operation without needlessly sucking massive amounts of energy as the next big energy vampires in our homes,” said Noah Horowitz, co-author of the report and director of NRDC’s Center for Energy Efficient Standards. “Up to $2.5 billion in extra electricity costs would be an appallingly high price for consumers and the environment to pay just to wake our TVs with a voice command.”

The full report is available here.