Gaming consoles consume copious amounts of energy

A study shows that video game consoles eat up heaps of energy and cost consumers billions in electricity costs -- and the majority of this is while the consoles are idle.

Microsoft

Electricity costs on game consoles have soared into the billions with tons of energy being wasted, according to a study (PDF) by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University. However, it doesn't have to stay this way.

The moral of this study: power down when done playing.

According to the research, 68 percent of all game console energy consumed in 2010 happened while in idle mode, which equaled 10.8 TWh of energy and about $1.24 billion in electricity costs. Overall, 1 percent of U.S. residential energy consumption in 2010 was spent on video game consoles, which is an increase of almost 50 percent over three years ago.

"We demonstrate that the most effective energy-saving modification is incorporation of a default auto power down feature, which could reduce electricity consumption of game consoles by 75 percent (10 TWh reduction of electricity in 2010)," the study's authors write, "saving consumers over $1 billion annually in electricity bills."

Some game makers have taken steps to include auto power-down features such as the Xbox 360, which has an auto-standby feature that puts the console on standby if it's idle for more than one hour. PlayStation 3 can update its software to add a power-management feature, but it hasn't yet, it's still disabled by default and makes users manually opt in.

About the author

Dara Kerr is a staff writer for CNET focused on the sharing economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado where she developed an affinity for collecting fool's gold and spirit animals.

 

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