If your energy bill has been out of control lately, it might be time to rethink the way you use your video game console.
A new report by the Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that the latest generation game consoles could cost Americans up to $1 billion annually in utility bills — $400 million of which is due to energy wasted while the machines aren’t even being used.
The NRDC analyzed energy consumption of the three most popular game consoles — Microsoft’s Xbox One, Sony’s PlayStation 4, and Nintendo’s Wii U — and found that if every household were to replace their old consoles with the new models, they would consume nearly 10 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity annually.
When so many of our household appliances -- from our light bulbs to our washing machines — seem to only get more energy efficient — why is it that game manufacturers are heading in the opposite direction?
Part of the reason is that these consoles aren’t just being used for marathon video game sessions anymore. They also double as streaming devices, becoming the kind of household appliance that is constantly “plugged in” even when not in use.
The Xbox One and PS4 actually consume two to three times more energy per year than their predecessors, due to inefficient energy use while in standby mode.
The average Xbox One user will spend up to $180 on energy costs over the lifetime of the console, compared to the $50 its predecessor, the Xbox 360, cost. The PS4 would cost an extra $135 in utility charges over its lifetime, three times as much as the PS3, which cost $50. The Wii U was the only console that didn’t increase energy consumption. It costs users about the same as Nintendo’s previous model, the Wii, at around $30.
1. When you get a new console, don’t stick with the default settings. They are almost always set up to consume the most energy.
2. Enable the “Auto Power Down” feature, which allows the machine to turn off if you’ve left it idle for a specified amount of time. You can also achieve this by disabling the “Standby mode.”
3. If you have a designated video streaming device like an Apple TV or Roku, use it instead of defaulting to your gaming console.