New Report: Video Games are Energy Drains

Even When Idle, Gaming Consoles Cost Consumers More than $1 Billion Worth of Wasted Energy
NEW YORK (November 19, 2008) – Video game consoles nationwide use about as much electricity in a year as every home in San Diego combined, and can significantly add to consumers’ electric bills, according to a new report released by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) today. Much of this energy use is consumed by machines that are left on, but not in use.
“If you leave your Xbox 360 or Sony Play Station 3 on all the time, you can cut your electric bill by as much as $100 a year simply by turning it off when you are finished playing,” said NRDC Senior Scientist Noah Horowitz. “With so many struggling in today’s economy – it’s important to realize there are simple steps gamers can take to lower their energy costs. And if manufacturers make future systems more energy efficient, they’ll be doing the right thing for consumers’ pockets, for our clean energy future, and for the environment.”
Looking at the “big three” video game consoles – Sony Playstation 3, Microsoft XBox360 and Nintendo’s Wii – the report measured the amount of power they use when they are active, idle and turned off. It found these systems use nearly the same amount of power when you are playing them as they do when you leave them on and walk away. With more efficient devices and by utilizing existing power-saving features, consumers could save more than $1 billion a year on utility bills and reduce as much global warming pollution per year as the tailpipe emissions from all the cars in San Jose. Specifically, automatic power-down features – which shut off devices if they are left idle for a certain amount of time – are big energy-savers. The feature exists in the Xbox 360 and was recently added to the Playstation 3, but it is rarely used and leaves room for improvement.
On average, the report found that Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 use large amounts of electricity – 150 Watts and 119 Watts respectively – including much more power than their prior generation of game consoles. These two systems can each consume more than 1,000 kilowatt-hours per year if left on all the time, which is equal to the annual energy use of two new refrigerators. The Nintendo Wii, however, uses significantly less power when on – at less than 20 Watts – and actually uses slightly less power than the previous generation of their console.
The Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 also operate as high-definition video players. When they are used this way, the consoles continue to operate at nearly peak energy levels, even after the movie ends, unless the device is turned off. The Playstation 3 uses five times the power of a stand-alone Sony Blu-ray player to play the same movie. This is a particularly dramatic difference considering these two products are made by the same company.
National video game energy use is growing as more and more homes have these devices and additional features are added. The report offers solutions for individuals to cut their game console-related energy costs and offers recommendations on how manufacturers can dramatically improve the efficiency of the next generation of consoles that are being developed. NRDC is working with the leading video game hardware and software designers to help make these improvements. In particular, NRDC is working to make sure users will be able to automatically save their settings and place in the game before they shut down the systems. 
“Energy efficiency saves people money, reduces global warming pollution, and is an essential part of our clean energy future,” said Horowitz. “Electronics manufacturers can help by making smarter products. NRDC is working to make sure this happens.”

Click here for a full copy of the report.