Power down: study says game consoles are energy vampires

There are plenty of places we are learning to save costs on electricity, such as energy efficient light bulbs and solar power. However, a new study released by Carnegie Mellon University highlights an area where we aren't so smart — electricity costs spent on game consoles are soaring, especially as they sit in idle mode.

The study specifies that 68 percent of all game console energy consumed in 2010 was while the devices sat in idle. Translated into dollars, that about $1.24 billion in electricity costs (10.8 TWh of energy).

And, the trend of more consumption is increasing.

The study goes on to note 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.

That's a lot of power and a lot of money. It packs an even bigger punch when we consider the fact that we could attack these energy vampires simply by adopting the habit shutting our consoles down.

Remembering to shut down our consoles is complicated by the fact that as our devices have become more powerful (and power consumptive), we use them for more than just gaming. We use our consoles for everything from music to streaming video. The more they've become a part of our lives the more they blend into the background.

The Mellon study notes that human behavior will be a tough nut to crack:

"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, saving consumers over $1 billion annually in electricity bills."

The study identifies two solutions to stop the growing power problem.

The first is for console manufacturers to adopt Energy Star power saving features in future development. Here's hoping that's in the manufacturers' five-year plans.

The second solution again leans on us as consumers to take action. Xbox 360 and PS3 manufacturers have added auto-power down features but it's up to us to enable them. Head to "system settings" and look for the auto-shutdown features.

It's an easy, money-saving step to add to our arsenal to green up our everyday behavior. Plus, I'm sure you won't mind the savings to your power bill!

Carnegie Mellon University, via CNet, Geeksugar

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