Video Games Are Energy Hogs

What's that gutteral oinking and snorting sound? That's the sound of a video game console at the energy trough. Leave the console on and you might add more than a hundred bucks a year to your power bill.

The Natural Resources Defense Council did a study of video game power consumption. Assuming that half of video game users turn off their consoles when not in use, the NRDC found that a first-generation Sony PlayStation 3 would consume $160 worth of electricity per year. The 2007 version is not much better at $134. However, turn the console off consistently and those scary numbers fall to $15 and $12 respectively. So tell your kids to turn off their game consoles when they're not playing!

Is Microsoft's Xbox 360 any better? Not much. The 2005 version burns through $143 (on) or $14 (off). The 2007 version uses $102 (on) or $11 (off).

The real energy saver turns out to be the Nintendo Wii. Leaving it on half the time will incur an annual power cost of only $10. Leaving it off will cost $3. In this instance, the product is inherently so much more energy-efficient that the differential of $7 is less than the entire cost of running one of the other game consoles with power off when not in use.

Note that the NRDC used a base rate of 10 cents per kilowatt hour to calculate its numbers. In some areas, electricity costs considerably more than that. My Con Edison bill in New York City runs more like 17 cents per kWh. And that's at the start of winter. Over the summer it topped 22 cents per kWh, which would effectively double NRDC's figures.

See NRDC site, fact sheet (PDF), and full report (PDF).