July 3, 2014 by John Crapper
As with most things, it’s the little things, the things that fly under the radar sometimes that can make a big difference. One of those little things (turns out it’s not so little) came to my attention the other day. It’s not all fun and games when it comes to the latest and most popular games consoles.
Two of the most popular new video game consoles guzzle large amounts of energy— much of it in standby mode when no one is using them.
The Microsoft Xbox One and Sony Playstation 4 use at least twice as much energy per year as their predecessors largely because of new features, according to tests by the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group. The tests found the third major console, the Nintendo Wii U, is an “energy sipper.”
The new Xbox One uses 15 watts of continuous power in standby mode and the PS4 uses eight. Compare that to less than two watts for a desktop in sleep mode.
“This adds up to several power plants of electricity,” Delforge says, noting the 24/7 power usage increases not only consumer utility bills but also heat-trapping carbon pollution generated by these plants….”
An estimated 110 million game consoles have been sold nationwide since 2005, and the three brands tested account for at least 90% of the U.S. market. Since hitting the market in November, Sony has sold 7 million worldwide, while Microsoft says more than 5 million Xbox One consoles have been shipped to retailers.
…It estimates that replacing the prior generation of consoles with new models will increase energy usage 10 billion kilowatt-hours annually — enough to power all homes in Houston for a year. (emphasis mine)
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that electronics, along with appliances and lighting, consumes a rising percentage of residential energy use — from 24% in 1993 to nearly 35% in 2009. It says the growing number of devices in homes has offset efficiency gains.
Reading this article got me to thinking. Before dawn,when I often exercise, I’ve been annoyed by having to put sheets of paper up to cover the lights always on emanating from the computer equipment. So just on a whim I went down and counted them after reading the above referenced article. I counted 6 on the modem, 4 on the wireless box, one on the electrical strip, one on the printer and finally, not to be outdone, one on the phone.
These suckers are on all the time, some flashing, some in a steady glow of blue or yellow. Of course whenever there’s a message on the phone another blinking light comes on along with a beeping sound every 15 seconds. If I turn on the stereo speakers poof there goes another light beaming green.
Seems to me these are all unnecessary lights using unnecessary electricity but that is just me I guess. But continuing to play this mental game I asked myself some questions. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have the modem lights come on only when something wasn’t working properly? Same for the wireless box. Does the electrical strip really need a light at all? If it isn’t working nothing plugged into it will work. Does the printer really need a light telling me it’s ready to print? Shouldn’t it likewise have a light telling me that it isn’t ready? Why does the phone need a light? Can’t I pick it up and hear a dial tone to determine that? Hell, now that I think of it the damn light stays on at times when there is no dial tone. So it’s really telling me nothing useful.
Why? Can’t I tell when there’re not working just my noticing there’s no sound coming out of them?
It glows constantly indicating it’s charging. Never shuts off so it never tells me when the toothbrush is fully charged. Same way with the battery recharger I have. When I have it plugged into the wall charging my A-2 batteries I’m having to use in everything under the sun these days it always shines green telling me it’s charging. It never shuts off. Really tells me nothing useful.
Continuing my little game I come upstairs and notice a light shining from the stereo telling me it’s in standby/off mode. Don’t I already know that? Entering the bedroom I see another dentist recommended sonic toothbrush charging for my wife with its ever present light shining.
I go to the living room window and look out at all the houses I see on the hills surrounding our house.
Continuing to play the game I drive home from work later that night and look at the Seattle skyline.
I notice all the lights on in the skyscrapers surging upwards into the sky and try to count all the lights on in those buildings that never shut off. I think of all the cities across the country doing the same. It boggles my mind.
After playing this game for a day I reach a conclusion: