Using your radio

Last updated Wednesday 30 April 2008

TV's ain't made for listening

Tuning in to radio stations on your TV can be over ten times more energy intensive than listening through the radio.

Some 1.5 million Brits currently listen to digital radio stations through their TV and the number is increasing. But unless you find the radio station's logo an object of particular beauty, powering the TV screen is a total waste of energy. Listening to an Energy Saving Recommended digital radio instead would save the average listener around 16kg of CO2 a year.

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Photo: Using your radio

Saves about 16kg of CO2 a year

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How will it make a difference?

Pub Fact

  • 8.5 million adults a week listen to BBC radio digitally
  • 22% of British BBC radio listeners tune in through their digital televisions at least once a week and about 12% listen to stations through their computer
  • 74 million hours a week are spent listening to digital radio
  • After 2012, powering TV's will absorb half of the energy used by 'consumer electronics'
  • As yet, there is no set date to turn off the analogue radio signal
  • If we all stopped listening to radio on the telly and tuned in by Energy Saving Recommended radio, the combined saving would be 29.5 GWh of electricity; equivalent to the electricity required by 7,000 homes for a year
  • It's worth noting that many digital radios use four times the energy of analogue radios, so you could always swap back to FM radio instead of DAB if your chosen station is not DAB only

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What's stopping me?

"But isn't everything going digital soon?"

The UK will officially switch to digital TV broadcasting in 2012 but there's no date set for switching off the FM signal. If your preferred stations are available on an analogue dial, there's no need to buy more energy intensive kit - and certainly no need to listen through a TV.

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How do I do it?

  • If you do decide to buy a digital radio, look for Energy Saving Recommended (ESR) models with the lowest power consumption. On average they use only 40% of the power of a non-ESR digital radio when playing
  • Turn digital radios off at the wall socket when you're done listening, as many still use power when plugged in, even if they are switched 'off' on the radio itself
  • Listening to radio while working on your computer adds little to the computer's normal energy demand
  • Try a wind-up digital radio

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Glossary terms used on this page
CO2, or carbon dioxide, is made up of the elements carbon and oxygen. It exists quite naturally in our atmosphere, as part of the carbon cycle. Everyday processes in the plant and animal world both add CO2 to the atmosphere and take it out. However, because it is a greenhouse gas - meaning it affects the temperature of the earth - the exact level of CO2 is important. Burning fossil fuels releases CO2 into the atmosphere, hence the anxiety that extensive use of these fuels is causing climate change.
Energy intensive
An energy-intensive process uses a great deal of energy - and therefore produces high emissions - relative to its useful output. As an example, beef production, has recently been cited as an especially energy-intensive industry, while tumble dryers are energy-intensive appliances. Products that are manufactured in an energy-intensive way are also said to be 'emissions heavy'.
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