Video game consoles consume a "staggeringly high" amount of energy, according to a report the Natural Resources Defense Council is releasing on Wednesday. How much electricity do they use each year? About as much as it takes to power the city of San Diego.
There's plenty of room for improvement. We can cut our nation's electricity bill by more than $1 billion and avoid 7 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year, according to the report.
How much can you personally save? Depends on what brand you choose. The Sony Playstation 3 and Microsofts Xbox 360 use as much as nine times more energy than the Nintendo Wii.
Habits play a crucial role as well. The systems use nearly the same amount of power when they are turned on and idle as they do when you are actively playing a game or watching a movie. If left on continuously, the Playstation 3 or Xbox 360 will consume the same amount of energy as two new refrigerators over the course of a year.
Here's how the three major brands stack up against each other:
- Sony Playstation 3 is the most power-hungry model. For the 2007 version, you'll spend about $12 a year if you turn the console off when you're not using it, compared to about $134 if you leave it on all the time.
- Microsoft Xbox 360 ranks a close second. If you shut it down when you're not playing a game or watching a movie, it costs about $11 to operate annually. Leaving it on continuously will cost you $103.
- Nintendo Wii uses significantly less energy than the others. It costs about $3 a year if you turn it off after use, compared to about $10 if you don't.
The comprehensive report outlines significant changes industry needs to make. For now, though, here's what consumers can do to make a difference.
- Always turn the system off when you are done playing a game or watching a movie. Don't assume that just because you turn off the TV that your console shuts down too. It doesn't. If you're in the middle of the game, save it so that you can pick up where you left off.
- Enable the automatic power down feature, which will shut down your device if it's left idle for a certain amount of time. This isn't always easy to do and you might need to install software first so click here for step-by-step instructions.
- Limit movie watching on gaming devices. Viewing movies on a stand-alone unit is a lot more efficient. The Playstation 3, for example, uses five times more power than the stand-alone Sony Blu-Ray player to play the same movie.