Online Survey Says: Game Console Mfg's Need to Improve on Energy Management

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Over 18 months ago, NRDC released a study that showed using two of today's most popular game console systems (Microsoft Xbox and Sony Playstation) you're paying a lot--in energy bills--to play your games.   

Game Console cost comparison

Our friends over at the consumer electronic marketplace and technology review site,, ran their own survey to get a sense of how well game console users are aware of how much energy their systems use and the options available to them on how to manage energy use.  Below is Retrevo's summary blog (reprinted with permission by the blog's author).  The bottom line is that we have a lot of work to do in educating game console consumers on auto-power-down capabilities of these systems, as well as getting game console manufacturers and game designers to make these systems more energy efficient. Note: NRDC is working directly with mfg's and the ENERGY STAR program to develop a stringent energy efficiency game console specification for the ENERGY STAR label.


Are Game Consoles the Worst Home Energy Wasters?

by Andrew Eiser

Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3 have powerful graphics engines with millions of transistors running at super fast clock cycles. Unfortunately, they both suck down large amounts of power. The Nintendo Wii, on the other hand, uses a mere 19 watts of power but according to Greenpeace is manufactured with many environmentally questionable materials. The good news is that both Sony and Microsoft now offer auto-power down modes on their consoles to help save energy. The bad news is that consoles come with auto-power saving mode disabled and as if that wasn’t bad enough, almost half the console owners in a recent Retrevo Gadgetology study said they don’t know if it is on or off.

Console Owners Making Up for Manufacturers’ Shortcomings

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The Retrevo Gadgetology study asked game console owners how diligent they are about shutting down their consoles when they are not using them and whether or not the power saving mode was enabled. We were pleased to see how many console owners indicated that they don't leave their units powered on when not in use but were disappointed by the number of consoles that may not have the auto-power saving mode enabled. In other words, console manufacturers have not done a very good job of implementing their power saving modes but fortunately many console owners have taken it upon themselves to turn their consoles off when not in use.

More Mixed News for the Environment

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Although both Sony and Microsoft now offer auto-power down modes on their consoles, they are both disabled by default and even when the Xbox 360 has it on, it only offers one option of a 6 hour time out period before powering down the unit. The Nintendo Wii has an auto power down mode that is only enabled when the WiFi “Connect24” mode is not enabled. Unfortunately, a lot of game consoles are still left powered on when not in use.


Still Have a Long Way to Go

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Once again there's good and bad news in the auto-power down department. Sony and Microsoft now offer this feature and many owners do in fact have it enabled but these manufacturers may also need to educate owners of their consoles who didn't even know if the auto power saving mode was enabled.