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Power-saving tips for your home cinema

Watch green

Whatever you own, adopting a few good habits will help you cut down on the amount of juice you use.

Turn down the brightness: Televisions leave the factory too bright because they're optimized for use in showrooms, not in your living room. Lowering the brightness setting will save electricity, increase the set's lifespan, and produce a better-looking picture.

Look for energy savings options: Many newer TVs may have options that let you sacrifice power for performance. You'll probably end up with an image that isn't as bright (as recommended above) and a TV that takes a few more seconds to warm up when you turn it on. But it's well worth it.

Use the TV's built-in speakers: Your separate surround-sound amplifier and speakers greatly enhance a big action movie, but they add nothing to the director's commentary. So turn on the amplifier only when the big sound makes a difference.

Truly turn off your gear: Your HDTV, amplifier, cable box, DVR, and DVD or Blu-ray Disc player all suck electricity when they're switched 'off'. Of those, only your DVR (and maybe your cable box, if it's separate from the DVR) has a legitimate reason to remain on call in this way: Without a stream of constant power, the DVR can't turn itself to fully active mode to record on schedule. The only advantage you get from the other gadgets that burn electricity continuously is the minor convenience of being able to turn them on with a remote and have them start up faster.

Adding a second surge protector to your home-theatre setup will put a stake in the heart of those vampires. Plug your TV, disc player and amplifier into one protector, and mount that one in a convenient location. Then plug your DVR and anything else into another. When you're done watching TV, turn off the first protector.

Alternatively you can achieve the same result with a single surge protector, but it has to be a smart one. The Monster GreenPower Digital PowerCenter MDP 900 and the Belkin Conserve AV can shut off some of the plugs on their strip while leaving others live.

Use that smaller TV: If you own two televisions, use the smaller, more modest one to view size-neutral programmes.

Relax and enjoy the show: After all, if you don't like what you watch, you're wasting your time as well as your electricity.

PC World

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