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Avoid Wasting Energy Through Vampire Loads and Game Consoles

 Enjoy this CPAU Staff Video "Vampire Loads"

Computer Game Consoles:  Video Games May Be Energy-Draining

You’re probably not thinking about the amount of energy your video game console is using when you’re trying to make it to the next level in your secrets ops mission, but maybe you should. Video game consoles use a substantial amount of electricity and can offer great opportunities for lowering your utility bills. What most people don’t realize is that these devices often consume almost as much energy when they’re not in use (in “standby mode”) as they do when you’re playing. For example, a PlayStation 3 from 2007 could consume nearly $170 worth of electricity per year (at U.S. average prices) if left on 24/7 (from www.esource.com).  

Industry research group Esource has recently looked into topic and found that

  • Kitchen appliances—such as toaster ovens and microwaves—account for 6 of the 10 largest power consumers in the home. 
  • A set-top cable box consumes roughly as much energy as a refrigerator over the course of a year. 
  • The largest common plug loads in offices are color copiers, one of which consumes up to 1,400 kilowatt-hours per year—about as much as about 30 Energy Star–rated laptop computers.

How do you reduce the waste? The best thing to do is simply turn off your video game console whenever possible AT THE POWER STRIP. Another good option is to use the power management features already built into your device. These features are often disabled initially, so you have to activate them yourself, but they can save tons of energy without negatively affecting your gaming experience.

Video game consoles also use much more power when used for nongaming purposes—like watching movies—than a stand-alone device such as a DVD player. So if you’re craving a movie, make sure to use a separate DVD player rather than your game console.

The bottom line is that game consoles or cable set-top boxes can use as much electricity as a refrigerator—or more—unless you smartly manage the systems. Join the more than 50 percent of gamers who regularly turn off or power manage their systems, and sit back and enjoy the savings.  (Source:  ESource).

Phantom Loads


Electronic equipment uses a lot of energy.  Some of the new, larger format televisions even use as much power as your refrigerator.  And, what's worse, like your refrigerator, they never turn off.  This energy waste is estimated to produce 1% of WORLDWIDE greenhouse gas emissions.

You pay for this phantom load power use on the monthly utility bill, but get no benefit for it!  Eliminating or reducing this standby power will cut monthly bills without impacting your lifestyle.  You can hardly find a better deal.

This "phantom load" or standby power happens when electronic devices use electricity even when they are turned off.  Equipment that commonly uses phantom power includes televisions, phone chargers, DVDs, VCRs, even coffeemakers with clocks and timers. 

Here are some tips for ways to reduce your phantom loads or standby power from
UC Berkeley's Lawrence Berkeley Labs:

  • Unplug televisions and VCRs that are rarely used.   
  • Put your electronic equipment together on a power strip, so you can turn everything off at once when you are through using it.  Keep the television-top box and modems on a separate circuit to avoid loss of connection.  Some smart strips have the ability to keep some equipment on all the time while others are turned off when no one is in the room.
  • Buy low-standby products. Most ENERGY STAR endorsed televisions and other electronic equipment use less power when on standby than does other equipment.

TV and Movie Watching

According to Esource, the amount of energy needed to watch video content—and the amount of money you spend to watch it—can vary widely depending on which device you choose to use.

Among the devices used to watch TV, set-top boxes are the most prolific; they’re also huge energy consumers. The average residential set-top box configuration uses nearly 450 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy annually—more than a new Energy Star–qualified refrigerator! What’s more, most of us are stuck with whatever equipment our cable or satellite provider gives us, so we don’t have a choice about whether we get an energy-efficient model or not. On a positive note, groups like the ENERGY STAR program are working with manufacturers to develop new types of set-top boxes that use less energy. It’s unclear, however, when we’ll start seeing these new devices in the local stores.

DVD or Blu-ray players are another popular way to watch movies, but the energy use associated with using these devices varies dramatically. Stand-alone DVD players are typically the most efficient, drawing around 10 watts of power (a little less than a standard compact fluorescent lamp) when in use. In contrast, a stand-alone Blu-ray player can draw over 3 times as much power, and a video game console can use 15 times as much power.

Finally, many people now stream video content on an Internet-enabled TV or through a separate box such as an Apple TV, Roku or Google TV. Although there isn’t yet much conclusive research, preliminary reports suggest that streaming is actually the most efficient way to watch movies or TV shows, especially since some streaming boxes draw as little as 3 watts of power when in use. That’s less than one-third the power of a DVD player and one-tenth the power of a standard set-top box!

All of these facts point to several easy steps that you can take to save energy while still enjoying your favorite movies and TV shows.
  • First, make sure to turn off the set-top box and digital video recorder when not in use (as long as you can do so without interrupting your scheduled recordings!).
  • Next, watch movies on a DVD or Blu-ray player instead of a gaming console.
  • Finally, when possible, choose a streaming service to watch videos; this option wastes the least amount of electricity. Now you can enjoy your popcorn and a movie worry free, knowing you’re doing something good for your wallet and for the environment.

Last Updated October 25, 2013