If the last time you paid attention to video games was when Pac Man and the Mario Brothers ruled the world, you probably have a hard time even comprehending how sophisticated these systems have become. But with the ability to create online gaming experiences shared by thousands of people at once and graphics that make you think you're watching a live action movie, it's important to question just what kind of an impact these devices are having on your carbon footprint.
The Energy Circle is an online resource for gathering the information you need on good, cost-effective energy efficient products, and its founder, Peter Troast, has recently attracted New York Times-sized attention for his reports on common energy vampires and the surprising cost of all that technological convenience.
Recently, Energy Circle turned it's attention to the popular video game consoles that seem to have popped up in every household, and set about comparing the energy use of Xbox360, Wii, and Playstation3. Can you guess which was an energy miser and which took the prize for fattest vampire of them all?
...We pulled out the trusty Kill a Watt and tested them: first, for how much electricity they'd draw in use; secondly, for when the devices were on but idle; and finally, for how much vampire power they draw when they're turned "off," which actually means they're in standby power mode.
The winner for least power consumed when in use was the Wii, and given the fact that games for this console typically include simpler graphics, the 20W per hour it uses make sense when compared to the 189W/hr used by the Xbox360, or the 193.6W/hr used by the Playstation3. The same standings also emerged when the consoles were compared in the idle position, but it was the standby mode that returned some surprising results.
The winner for least power consumed when in idle or "off" mode was the Playstation3 with only 1.9W/hour, followed by the Wii with 2W/hr, and Xbox360 with 3W/hr.
Many people don't realize that their electronics are consuming energy, even when they are turned "off," and although two watts here and three watts there might not seem like much, leaving these consoles plugged into the wall month after month can really start to result in some wasted energy (not to mention all that time you could be spending outside!).
If your family has trouble remembering to unplug appliances when they're not being used, smart power strips can be used to control devices' idle energy use with the touch of a button.
Once again, the BITS Smart Strip Power Strip proves itself to be a phenomenally low cost, and amazingly convenient little device. We set the TV as the control device, and switch all the other video dependent components to go off automatically when it's turned off (with the exception of the DVR).
Families with young children might also be interested in "The Moolah Maker," a free on-line tool designed by Energy Circle to help kids and parents record their monthly energy use, write contracts to define their energy use goals and share the financial savings from reduced energy use.
Image credit: Flickr Creative Commons - MNgilen