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Game Consoles Are Multi-Million Dollar Energy Wasters? 172

GamesIndustry.biz has details from a UK government report on energy wasted by consoles in standby mode. The information comes from a larger study by the government on energy wasted by consumer electronic devices, and confirms statistics gather here in the states. From the article: "Last month, a group of bloggers in the United States reported that while the original PlayStation leaked just 0.2W - accounting for some 1.752kWh wasted each year - the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 2 both leak a massive 2W, or 17.52kWh each year. The energy review proposes a number of measures to minimize energy waste, including working with electronics companies to phase out costly standby routines that drain energy while the device is not in use." The Gamers with Jobs site has some insightful commentary on the issue.
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Game Consoles Are Multi-Million Dollar Energy Wasters?

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  • Hmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dolson ( 634094 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @01:31PM (#15758818) Homepage Journal
    I wonder what this means for the Nintendo Wii, which has that 24-hours always-connected crap that we really don't need. Anyone know what the stats are supposed to be for the Wii's power leakage? If you can call it a leakage.
    • Re:Hmm (Score:2, Insightful)

      as far as I know from the article about it a month ago was that the nintendo consoles weer always significantly less than the competition. So, in pulling numbers straight from my ass I bet it would be ballparked around .9 to 1.9W.
      I mean, considering how their system has significantly less powerful parts than the competition, it couldn't possibly drain as much as the competition (well atleast at full power) especially since there isn't an internal hdd to spin, that's probably about 60% of the power used by
    • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Funny)

      by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @01:54PM (#15759046) Homepage
      This is an unfair question, as it only applies when you actually stop playing and turn the thing off. I don't know about you, but I don't ever plan to stop playing my Wii once I get it.
    • Re:Hmm (Score:3, Funny)

      by frosty_tsm ( 933163 )
      Then it's probably a pretty leaky Wii...

      (had to be said)
    • I'm sure this is a readily disablable feature. Personally, I'll have mine off when I'm not using it. The exception is if I'm downloading something that I planned on downloading (like a game). I just don't trust my computers and such to be online when I'm not looking.
  • just what are the consols doing in standby that requires so much power? surely the little lights on them cant be using up that much juice.
    • Re:question? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Ironsides ( 739422 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @01:35PM (#15758856) Homepage Journal
      1) Internal clocks/batteries

      2) IR Remote ports that need to be monitored as they can be used to turn on the consoles.
      • You forgot #3: The AC-DC transformer. With the size of the one on the 360 I'm not surprised it wastes so much.
      • But both have been used in the original Playstation. Can modern electronics really waste ten times more power than new electronics, doing the same thing?
    • by MrSquirrel ( 976630 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @01:37PM (#15758873)
      They're spying on us while waiting for the rise of the machines. They'll know it is time when they see their leader, the brave little toaster, rise up. ...unfortunately for them, the brave little toaster had a little accident involving a fork after he captured one of my bagels. I had the last laugh that day.
      • Hmmm... A "little accident involving a fork" and a toaster?

        I had the last laugh that day.
        I'm sure you did, as I am reminded of the adage: "he who laughs last is the slowest". :)
    • The same thing your TV does on standby, or your powered-subwoofer with signal detection, or your TV, or your DTS receiver, or your... Practically everything these days has a standby mode. Power leakage is not news, and Zonk is once again proving he has some kind of irrational hatred toward consoles. I saw someone say that in a story a couple days ago, but now I'm starting to believe it. I mean, what about people who leave their PC on all day? I'd like to think a few hundred watts is more of an issue th
    • It isn't even really that much juice. 2W? I know it adds up when you consider ALL of the devices out there, but lets be realistic here. It is less than a small incandescent light bulb running for one hour per day.

      60W * 1h = 60Wh
      2W * 24h = 48Wh

      -matthew
  • by CtrlPhreak ( 226872 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @01:36PM (#15758863) Homepage
    The tubes are clogged and I'm not getting my internets. Now the consoles stole all my power and stood by wasting!

    This isn't the first time power being wasted has been an issue, but at least these consoles have a stand-by mode, because people don't like turning them off. Looking here, I have a laptop running right beside me just for aim, tell me that isn't a waste of power and a second monitor that I use right now just to shove itunes onto. The biggest way to conserve power is to convince people that power needs to be conserved, otherwise I'll just keep wasting it. I've never had an issue with not getting enough power, just keep paying the bills and it keeps flowing. And as far as cost, the numbers are really low when it comes down individually, you have to multiply by populations to get the numbers to a size that makes you go wow. A couple cents to a dollar a month, why do I care about that wastage from my console?
    • Mob Rule (Score:3, Insightful)

      by brunes69 ( 86786 )
      If the Mob (read:people like you) would care more about wasting "a couple cents to a dollar a month", then the cost of power would *go down* buy *a couple of dollars a KW a month*, because we wouldn't be in such a power crisis.

      As in, if everyone cared about saving their 10 cents a month, they would end up actually saving tens of dollars a month(or more).

      But good luck getting everyone to care.
      • You're assuming that the energy companies won't try to screw the customer out of money any way they can. That said, I'm not disagreeing with your main premise, which is that we should all try to be conscious of the power that we use and do what we can to cut that down...
        • Luckily electricity is a monitored and classified as a utility. If we could elect some decent politicians that didn't have pockets full of energy cash, we would see a price drop. Applies to both parties, by the way.
        • Re:Mob Rule (Score:4, Interesting)

          by smooth wombat ( 796938 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @02:52PM (#15759491) Journal
          we should all try to be conscious of the power that we use and do what we can to cut that down...


          Nice idea but since both electrical and natural gas rates are, for the most part, regulated industries, you can end up with situations where a company wanted to raise rates because people were conserving too much. Don't believe me? Read on. [ct.gov]

          • ...of why energey should not be privitized.

            There are certain things that are natural monopolies - water, electricity, sewage - things that, over the long term, a company can not both reasonably make a profit on *and* serve the public's best interests.
          • What's so unreasonable about rising the prices if the usage drops significantly? Since the demand for electricity is pretty inelastic, that's the most reasonable thing to do if they are to keep the revenue on certain level. And certain revenue is needed to cover the fixed costs: no matter how much people use, 10 KW or 100 KW, the power plant still needs to be ran and maintained, and so do the power lines.
      • Re:Mob Rule (Score:4, Insightful)

        by aafiske ( 243836 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @06:01PM (#15760710)
        It's hard to care about wasting a couple of cents when you're knowingly wasting 5 times as much on other things. Mobs aren't too bright, but I think it would appeal to people much more if you said something like (using a computer purely for illustration):

        Your computer uses the most idle energy in your home. Most devices have a little wasted wattage, but this device is 10 times worse. That makes it the best place to start conserving, let's all pay attention and turn it off, or lobby for better energy efficiency.

        See what I mean? If you tell someone 'you waste 50w a day, let's try to get that to 49w' everyone will shrug. Tell 'em they'll cut it to 35w and it might be worthwhile. I.e., focus on the biggest targets first, not the piddly bits.
      • Tell that to every SUV owner on the road.
    • So what you are saying is that you need a totalitarian government to make and enforce rules for your own benefit because you are too weak and stupid to do it for yourself?
      Boy you remind of a guy at work I know.
      He is a very liberal and enlightened fellow. He has read Hilary Clinton's book, hates Bush, and even has a free Tibet bumper sticker.
      He started yelling at me because I didn't believe his "proof" that man has caused global warming and that is it going to be the end of life as we know it if we don't do
  • by FadedTimes ( 581715 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @01:37PM (#15758875)
    Cable Boxes, DVR/Tivos boxes, DVD players, Amplifiers, battery rechargers, and probably more.
  • by donscarletti ( 569232 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @01:37PM (#15758879)

    It's only wastage if you don't play it 24/7.

    If people don't want to be sufficiently hardcore, that's their own problem.

    Standby is for the weak

  • by briancnorton ( 586947 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @01:42PM (#15758925) Homepage
    how about shutting down the millions of PCs that are sucking 150 watts each when idle. How about Xerox machines that keep the lamp hot, etc.
    • That's true. I remember reading an article about legislation that left air conditioner efficiency alone in favor of worrying about the efficiency of ceiling fans, and the some of the fans in question in the article weren't pure fans but fans with light fixtures. If you apply Amdahl's law, you worry about the big components of energy use first, especially in terms of what is the biggest energy gain you can get for the least expense.
      • Any "energy saver" website [ames.ia.us] will give you the energy consumption ratings of electrical appliances.

        The Green activist solutions are:

        Washing machines 500 watts/hour

        Wash your clothes in the nearest stream
        Drying machine 5000 watt/hour
        Hang your washing out on a line (apartments could have a line going from the window/balcony to the nearest opposite wall. The neighbourhood association might object of course

        Air conditioner 750/1050
        Knock holes in your roof to let the hot air out, and knock some holes in
        the basem
    • How about just making sure your damn screen saver shuts off your monitor? There are at least two or three monitors (hooked up to computers running Linux, of course) just in my general area of the office at work where the screen saver blanks the screen, but doesn't blank the sync, so the screen gives off a pale dark-yellowish glow all night and all weekend.
  • by Clockwurk ( 577966 ) * on Friday July 21, 2006 @01:42PM (#15758929) Homepage
    then yes, I suppose they are. Assuming 20c/kwh, you would waste a whopping $3.50 a year by keeping your PS2 plugged in all the time.
    • $3.50 / year * 100 million consoles = $350 million dollars a year wasted.

      And it is reall *wasted*, because that money is mbasically lost to the enconomy, since a large portion of it is expensses the power company incurrs aquiring a non-renewable resource. It's not like it is money going from A -> B -> C, it is money going from A -> B ->
      • And it is reall *wasted*, because that money is mbasically lost to the enconomy, since a large portion of it is expensses the power company incurrs aquiring a non-renewable resource. It's not like it is money going from A -> B -> C, it is money going from A -> B ->

        Oh noes, it is wasted! So, can I tell the power company not to bill me for all the idle currents that my appliances use? Not-Fricken-Likely. That cash isn't lost to the economy, it's given to the power company for all those electrons
      • And it is reall *wasted*, because that money is mbasically lost to the enconomy, since a large portion of it is expensses the power company incurrs aquiring a non-renewable resource. It's not like it is money going from A -> B -> C, it is money going from A -> B ->

        What kind of goofy logic is this? You aren't assuming that mining companies bury their profits in the mines, are you?

      • Everyone i know doesn't just use the front power button, we turn the powersupply of our ps2 off as well (switch on the back of the console). The red light that is on while the ps2 is on standby makes me feel odd. Not to mention that a ton of ps2's have broken and are replacements. I'll bet there is nowhere near the 100million shipped plugged in and in standbye mode. Also i get about 10-11 cents per kwh post taxes =P. So that's have the cost the grandparent used.
    • That's just for a single PS2 / 360. There have been well over 100 million ps2 units shipped since launch. Now you're talking $350 million / yr electric consumption just for unutilized PS2s. Add another $700 million for 200 million PCs when turned off. Add all those VCRs blinking 12:00, DVD players, chargers for cell phones, razors, laptops, etc etc etc.

      Let's conservatively guess in the US we're talking $1 Billion (1000 million) / yr. Compare that to a total US GDP of ~ $10 Trillion (ten thousand billion)... you're talking about 1 ten thousandth of US GDP / yr wasted. Actually... pretty significant.
    • More than this, the power is inconsequential compared to the other power use in a home. 2 watts? How does that compare to the air conditioning used in the summer and heating used in the winter? Or the lights outside the door of the house that get turned on at night? In the grand scheme of things, 2W is nothing.

      Heck, take a TV, for example. I have no idea how much a big screen TV draws, but let's pick a number, 500W for the big sucker. Now, in my house, the television gets pretty frequent use when we're home
  • Maybe all these consoles should be folding@home when not in use.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Folding_at_home [wikipedia.org]
    • That'd only help when they're idle and already using up ~100W. Having them turned on 24/7 instead of just on standby leaking current won't help a thing, plus consoles were never designed to run for that length of time.
  • WTF? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Psychotext ( 262644 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @01:54PM (#15759036)
    Ok, so we have aircon, satellite / cable systems, television, hi-fi, lights, heating, washing machines, dishwashers, toasters, kettles and all manner of other household goods that suck power in standby and otherwise... ...but somehow games consoles get singled out? Honestly wtf is that all about. Would have been more meaningful if they'd grabbed a bunch of other gear and compared to see just how much power these things waste in comparison.
  • by buddyglass ( 925859 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @01:54PM (#15759038)
    I must disagree with the "insightful commentary". "Off" should mean "off". If there are useful tasks a console can perform while in standby mode, incorporate a "standby mode" state into the machine's design, separate from "off". Currently "off" really means "stand by", with a true "off" state completely absent. This is unfortunate. Of course there's a workaround, i.e. unplugging the machine from the wall, but that's unnecessarily burdensome for the consumer.
    • The PS2 at least has the front switch meaning "on/standby" and a toggle switch in the back that can turn it completely off.
    • If there are useful tasks a console can perform while in standby mode, incorporate a "standby mode" state into the machine's design, separate from "off".

      This new mode - can we call it 'Mode Execute Ready'?

  • Yes... (Score:2, Interesting)

    I'm all for making the consoles more efficient. Wasting energy is no good.

    But as long as we're talking about wasting energy... Let's talk television. I have a hundred channels, and nothing is on worth watching. Unless I have erectile dysfunction, in which case I get tons of relevant programming in the form of commercials.

    Seriously, TV, with the exception of RARE broadcasting from Discovery, History, and PBS, is mostly garbage. I'd hope that people would choose to exercise their minds via playing games r
  • by glindsey ( 73730 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @02:03PM (#15759116)
    2W consumed 24/7. Yeah, that sounds like a lot. 336 watt-hours per week, to be precise.

    Unless you consider, say, the typical 60W incandescent hall light that is on for four hours each night. 1,680 watt-hours per week.

    I'd venture to guess that the majority of families have at least one light of this sort that is turned on between the time the sun goes down and the time the family goes to sleep, and probably more than one (porches, foyers, outdoor sconces, et cetera). So there you have it, folks: throw out five PS2s... or use one less lightbulb.

    Yes, I can see how this is a horribly pressing problem.
    • And while your at it, throw the incandescent bulb in the bin and replace it with a vastly more cost-effective energy efficient lightbulb.
      • Oh, I absolutely agree... but unfortunately the average American citizen still uses incandescents everywhere.
  • 2 Watts is not much. (Score:4, Informative)

    by koinu ( 472851 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @02:18PM (#15759233)

    Take a look at the specs of your TV/VCR, I bet they consume 5-15W while on standby.

    How much do you think your ATX tower consumes? It is a fat 5-7W when "turned off". AT towers have been perfect. They had a mechanical switch and there was no "standby mode". My ATX tower has an external switch to be sure it's really off (my definition of "off" is 0W).

  • Something that never gets mentioned is that energy doesn't just disappear. All the energy that enters your house is eventually turned into heat. So this is only really "wasted energy" when it's hot outside. People with electric heating could leave all their lights and appliances on all winter (or summer for our friends down under) long and the only effect would be the heater kicking in less often.
  • Overhyped... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thebdj ( 768618 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @02:20PM (#15759252) Journal
    I think people focus on this a lot, or I just notice this more then other things. But it is highly overstated. There are far worse devices then a console. Check this [lbl.gov] out. Look at the listed items (the list is a bit old, consoles still showing at 1.1 W): Digital Cable Box - 23 Watts. A regular one is still over 15 W in idle. I would be far more concerned with those then I would be consoles. (I am pretty sure there are more cable boxes in the US and Worldwide then game consoles that are actually plugged in, not counting those dust collecting NES and Atari).

    Actually, let us take a look at the soon to be average (if we ever get converted to digital) TV setup. Digital TV = 8.8W, Digital Cable Box = 23W, and DVD Player (don't most people have these?) 4.4W. Now, idling that is 36.2W of power usage. This is for something that is very likely more common then a console is. Power "leakage" (such a horrible word) is bad, but it is a sympton of two things:

    1) Instant Gratification: Devices receiving power constantly are that much closer to being instant-on, allowing you to get to enjoying your DVDs and television programming faster. They have to keep certain things in standby modes to keep load times down.
    2) Features and Adv. Functionality: You know, being able to power on devices with the remote, having time-of-day clock setups (there are a few devices that really do not need them), and external displays with time and other information on them at all times.

    I am sure there are other reasons related to technology needed certain power requirements, but I really believe some of the great increases in idle power usage (cause that really is what "leakage" is) are not necessity. I am sure governments will attempt to regulate this a bit better, but we all know what a joke government regulations can turn into.
  • by slackmaster2000 ( 820067 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @03:42PM (#15759856)
    So let's say that your TV couldn't be turned on by remote control (because it's energy efficient and off means off), thus requiring that you walk all the way over to the set, extend your arm, push the button, retract your arm, and walk back to the sofa. For the sake of argument, let's say that on average, this activity requires approximately one calorie per day per household in the US. So per household, that's 365 calories per year. Since I'm just making shit up, let's also assume that there are 150 million television-bearing households.

    The amount of energy required then to manually turn on the television in the US alone is 54.75 BILLION calories.

    In the US we pretty much only eat hamburgers. A single 1/4 pound lean beef patty contains 290 calories. So the number of beef patties required to power US citizens for the sole task of turning the television on and off by hand is 188,793,103.

    Folks, that's almost 189 MILLION quarter pound beef patties. That's 47.25 MILLION pounds of beef.

    Using my keen powers of google, I've determined that the average amount of beef we get from a single cow is just about 500 pounds. Hold on to your buns, because this is going make your mustard: the number of cows required to power US humans for an entire year of turning the TV on and off without the assistance of a remote control is 94,500.

    Nintey four thousand five hundred cows.

    Now prepare to be exagerated into oblivion. I'm about as knowledgable about ranching as you are about energy production, but from what I'm able to google, it looks like a single cow is probably going to eat from 4 to 10 acres of grass per year. Now cows do have a tendancy to grow before reaching maturity, and little cows probably don't eat as much as big cows, but it does look like beef cows get to live for just about two years. We also have to consider that we need to maintain one heffer per calf until cloning technology becomes more advanced. So I think we can safely say that for each cow, we're going to require 10 acres of grass per year.

    That's 945,000 acres of grass per year required to turn our televisions on and off the old fashioned way.

    That's a lot of grass. 1,476 square miles to be precise. People, that's the entire state of Rhode Island. Enough land for over 1,000,000 people to live and play.

    Now it should be clear to everyone that if we figure out how much nitrogen and water and other various stuff is required per grazing acre, we'll end up with some really big numbers. Let's just say the numbers are definately going to be in the millions, and that's definately not small.

    So, I think I've made my point. The next time you think about those 2 watts of wasted energy here and there and decide to multiply that number until it's a really big number, try to also think about the cows.
  • by WillAffleckUW ( 858324 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @04:23PM (#15760117) Homepage Journal
    Just powering the giant non-LCD screens on your old boxen.

    Heck, if you want to count watts, just look at your light bulbs - average US household uses more than 2000 watts with standard bulbs - if you swapped those for compact flourescents you'd be using 200-300 watts, saving more than 1700 watts, which is a much higher amount than 2 watts, or even 20 watts.

    Let's put things in perspective here, people. Your air conditioning for the current global-warming-induced heat waves uses many times the power consumption of your game consoles.

    Now, if we just bough LED lights, we'd use even less power.
  • That energy is only wasted if you have no desire to heat the room the console is in.

    Otherwise you have a nice little heater with a COP equal to 1.

    • That energy is only wasted if you have no desire to heat the room the console is in.

      Such "no desire" is highly likely. In the majority of the developed world, this Slashdot article was posted in the summer. (South America, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia are far from the majority.) In summer, you want to remove heat from the environment, either through semi-active cooling (fans) or through heat pumping (air conditioning).

  • Modern CRT televisions don't turn all the way off when you hit the power button. That's because the gas in the cathode ray tube is kept charged so that the device turns on quickly at the flip of the switch. This isn't necessary for TVs to work - it's done so that people don't have to wait so long to start watching.

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