As gamers, we do not have the most environmentally-friendly of hobbies. Playing games on your console or PC uses electricty, and there’s no getting around that. HCW compared the energy usage of the three major current-generation consoles as well as a mid-range PC:
- In video games, both the PS3 and XBOX 360 were relatively low compared to a mid-to-high range PC.
- The Wii is amazingly efficient, using no more than 18 Watts in any of our tests (although it really shows in visual quality in games)
- Both consoles are power hogs when it comes to playing movies.
- XBOX 360’s Dashboard console is power-hungry (and slow). PS3’s is slick and uses a lot of power, but no more than playing a DVD.
A PC’s energy consumption is comparable to the PS3 and the Xbox 360, though the results varied depending on the task at hand.
The most radical solution to save energy and money is not to play electronic games at all. I am not suggesting that we all stop playing games, but there are some steps we can take to reduce energy consumption and lower our bills. Modern consoles do not completely shut off — they’re left in standby mode, which of course requires electricity. Any appliance that has any sort of LED indicator continues to draw power even when you have turned it “off”. This is called electricty leakage or phantom load. Energy leaks in the house here and there don’t use much energy or cost you much money, but in aggregate (TV, consoles, toaster oven, etc.) they can impact your pocketbook — from 8% of your annual electricity bill or more. The best way to reduce power leakage throughout the house is to cut the power to the devices after each use.
Many of us use power strips which provide additional outlets and surge protection for our electronic devices. To save money and electricty, plug all of your electronics into a power strip, and when you’re finished, switch the power strip off. Some people may not have a set-up that allows them easy access to the power strip. For instance, your power strip may be located behind your entertainment unit or behind your computer desk. The Smart Strip power strip (via TreeHugger) senses whether a device is using “idle” (standby) current or whether it is active. If the control or master device is idle, the Smart Strip will cut the power to all of the other devices that are plugged into the power strip, saving you the hassle of reaching behind your furniture, or if you’re like me, remembering to switch it off for the night. The Smart Strip is available to people in the US, but there may be similar gadgets for other countries, too.