The hidden costs of cable TV
Tips & Tricks

The hidden costs of cable TV

In addition to getting rid of your high cable bill, you can save on other hidden costs also. Did you know cutting the cord can lower your utility bills?

The price of power

Still wondering if you should ditch cable TV, but not sure how much you will really save? Consider this, in addition to getting rid of your high cable bill, there are other ways to save. Did you know cutting the cord can lower your utility bills? Let's take a closer look at these hidden costs.

The LA Times reported that an idle cable DVR box consumes 35 watts of power every hour (this is in addition to how much power it uses when the box is in use). In California, it costs on average $8 per month to power each cable DVR box. If you have two DVRs and one of the smaller cable boxes, you could easily be looking at $20 a month in electrical bills just to power your cable equipment.

Cable cutters have reported $20 to $30 being a very normal savings on their monthly electric bill after they canceled cable. In fact, we've even had people tell us their electric bill went down as much as $40 a month after they ditched cable TV! If you have two cable boxes, you'll be paying approximately $192 a year for electrical alone. In that case, you could pay for a year of Hulu and Netflix with the money you save on your electric bill by ditching cable TV. Add in the money you will save from canceling your cable subscription and you are looking at significant savings!

Cable-cutting device power consumption

Many popular cord-cutting DVRs use a fraction of the power cable DVRs use. For instance, Tablo DVRs use 9.2 watts of power every hour when idle and 15 watts of power per hour when all four tuners are recording a show and one channel is being watched live. Even when your Tablo DVR is in full use, you still only consume half the power an idle cable DVR uses.

Channel Master DVR+ is a very popular DVR for cord-cutters and consumes a mere 7.78 watts or 9.22 watts when using an external hard drive.

Another great example would be the Roku. Even when streaming content, the Roku 3 uses a very minimal 3.5 watts of power per hour. Compare that to the 35 watts of power a cable DVR consumes just by being plugged into a socket.

Roku device power consumption per hour is as follows:

  • Roku 4 – 12.4W
  • Roku 3 – 3.5W
  • Roku 2 – 3.5W
  • Roku 1 – 4.5W
  • Roku Streaming Stick – 2W

So depending on which Roku you have, the total cost to power a Roku could be as little as $8 per year (note: a Roku Streaming Stick will likely cost even less because it typically turns off when not in use, unlike other streaming devices).

Other devices, like the new Apple TV, use as little as 0.36 watts per hour when idle and merely 2.32 watts per hour when being used! Clearly, Roku and the Apple TV both create remarkable savings over using a standard cable TV box.

Additional cable fees

Not only will you save money on your utility bills, you can also save money by not paying rental fees to your cable provider. Most cable companies charge, on average, $10-12 a month for each DVR or set-top box rental. How many times has the cable company stung you with hidden fees for service calls, installation and activation fees? And don’t forget the taxes cable TV companies charge—which streaming services do not charge—so you'll be saving there as well.

Whenever you hear someone wondering how much they can save by ditching cable TV, make sure to tell them that the $200+ they might save on their utilities in one year alone could pay for two subscriptions to a streaming service like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime. Combined with the money you'll save without cable's rental charges, taxes and hidden fees, your yearly savings as a cord-cutter are sure to be substantial. Most importantly, you'll never miss a thing by switching to energy-efficient and economical alternatives.

Looking for other ways to save on those hidden and not-so-hidden costs? Check out our money-saving tips guide for ideas on budgeting, frugal living and smart shopping.

Sign up for our newsletter!

Be the first to know about news and special offers.