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The hidden costs of cut-price supermarket TVs

Supermarkets are growing their market share of television sales as more of us buy cheap tellies. But even though you might be bagging a bargain, your TV’s poor energy efficiency could burn money in the long run.

According to the latest Mintel research, around one in ten people bought their most recent TV from a supermarket. And, perhaps even more interesting than that, one in five people who cite bargain prices as the most important factor when they’re out shopping bought their telly from a supermarket.

Supermarkets are clearly doing a good job with their TV price promotions.

However, cut-price TVs don’t always add up. Not only do they often fail to offer the best picture quality, they also hold a hidden cost. Their poor energy efficiency could leave you paying hundreds of pounds extra over the years.

Bargain supermarket TVs leak money

In the latest Which? TV lab tests, we pitted two 40 inch TVs against one another – the Technika 40-270 from Tesco (£299) versus the more expensive Sony Bravia KDL-40CX523 (£459).

When it comes to running the Technika, our tests found that you’d spend £42 a year on energy (based on an electricity price of 14.5p per kilowatt, five hours viewing and 19 hours standby per day). Over five years, your cheap £299 TV would turn into £508 right before your eyes.

This compares to yearly running costs of £25 for the Sony TV, bringing the total price over five years to £559. Yes, it’s still a little more than the Tesco-bought telly, but you’re getting a much better TV that had originally cost £460! Click to enlarge the following infographic:

Keep an eye on energy efficiency

We also looked at a pricier 3D TV from Argos and compared it to a more energy efficient 3D model from Samsung. Argos’ Bush BPDP423DHD will cost £650 new, but after five years you’ll have spent £214 running it.

In contrast the £639 Samsung UE40D6100 will cost just £88 to run over the same period. That makes for some dramatic price differences, as you can see from the following infographic (click the image to enlarge):

So, as you can see, you might be grabbing a bargain TV now, but those energy costs will add up. In the end, it might be better to dig deep in the short term and watch the savings roll in over the years. This is what our TV expert Rich Parris, who headed the research, had to say about the findings:

‘It’s no surprise that for most of us, the prime consideration when buying a TV is the price tag. But our tests have found some surprising hidden costs on seemingly cheap TVs – in the long run, that bargain brand TV could end up costing you dearly.’

Are you surprised by our research? And do you take energy efficiency into consideration when you’re buying a new TV?


The test assumes five hours TV viewing every day. I doubt if I have ever watched TV for five hours in a day.

Still, if more TV means less driving then TVs save energy, whatever their power consumption.

We recently bought a new tv to replace an old analogue one in time for last week’s digital switchover. It’s very much a subsidiary tv used for about one hour a week in aggregate on average. We switch it on when we want to watch it and off again afterwards so there is no stand-by power consumption. It seemed pointless spending half as much again for a top brand model. The picture and sound quality are both satisfactory [and better than its predecessor] albeit not as good as our main tv. The whole thing is an extravagance really but it’s silly to get too analytical about these things.

Musse says:
20 November 2011

I agree with the last two sentences of John Ward’s comment. I also wonder why Which?’s seemingly mostly female authors never seems to work out how much one’s heating bills are reduced by the energy released into the home by ‘inefficient’ t.vs, refrigerators and all the other such devices which they choose to knock.

Alex B says:
21 November 2011

Unless your home is heated with standard tariff electricity, you’re still better off getting more efficient electrical devices. Each kWh of waste heat from an inefficient appliance will cost about four times that of a kWh of heat from gas heating.

And, of course, in the summer, you probably want as little additional heat as possible.

Hi Musse, please take a minute to look at our commenting guidelines – they clearly state that ‘Language that’s vulgar, obscene, sexually orientated, racist, sexist, homophobic or hateful is not welcome’. I can see no evidence to back up your comment on this Conversation, and if you make further comments of this nature we will remove them.

perspectiveenforcer says:
1 June 2012


calm down dear!