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Energy Sucker or Energy Sipper? Learn More about Household Electronic Use

Consumers often ask us about the energy consumption of household electronics. Even though household electronics are a relatively small portion of your bill when compared to heating and cooling, that consumption can add up – even with the electronics are off. This article will inform you on your electronics consumption and highlight some opportunities for savings.

Energy Suckers

Gaming Desktops

High performance desktops used for gaming and streaming consume a lot of energy. A report from Berkeley estimates the typical gaming computer with display uses approximately 1400 kWh per year. This is equivalent to the energy use of three refrigerators and would add $182.00 to your annual energy bill in Minnesota.

Tips:

  • Spend upfront to save in the long run. Upgrade your computer with efficient computer components to lower the energy consumption and improve its performance.
DVR and Cable Boxes

Reports from the National Resource Defense Council and the Los Angeles Times confirm cable boxes can increase the cost of your electricity bill considerably. This is because cable boxes draw almost the same amount in standby as they do to stream and record television. That means, your cable box is drawing energy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Los Angeles Times showed that a set-top cable box with digital recorder can consume when it’s not being used. Unfortunately, a recent investigation shows that the energy saving settings on cable boxes save less than one percent of annual consumption. If you have multiple cable boxes, the annual cost could add up.

Tips:

  • If you have multiple cable boxes, you might want to consider picking one room to have a cable box set
  • To save energy, plug your entire television set up, cable box and all, into a power strip and switch it off when not in use.
  • Make sure your cable box was made after 2013. In 2013, leading programming distributors joined and energy conservation agreement to improve performance of their boxes. All boxes made after 2013 will be less expensive to run than older models.
Video Game Consoles

As computing performance improve, and as new games require more sophisticated graphics, the consumption of the latest generation of consoles, like the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One, has gone up considerably. The two consoles consume than their predecessors, the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Excluding the energy consumption of the television, the PlayStation 4 consumes an estimated 181 kWh per year and the Xbox One consumes an estimated 233 kWh per year.

Tips:

  • If you have a choice, don’t use your video game console to stream video. A report from the National Resource Defense Council found the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One use 30 to 45 times more power to stream video than a dedicated streaming device.
  • Nearly half of the energy consumed by most video game consoles is during standby mode when it’s turned off. If you aren’t using your console for long periods of time, unplug it or use a power strip and turn the power strip off. If you have any console besides an Xbox One or PlayStation 4, their standby consumption is so low you can ignore this tip.
  • If you have an Xbox One, take advantage of energy-saving settings.
General tip when dealing with these energy hungry electronics:
  • If you live in a household that uses gaming computers, DVR and cable box, and Xbox One, or a PlayStation 4, consider plugging them into a power strip. When not using the electronics, turn the power strip off. All these electronics draw significant energy in standby. Turning the power strip off will mitigate the unnecessary cost of running the electronic in standby. When using a strip, make sure your electronics are properly powered down or put to sleep to protect the software and hardware of the electronics.

Energy Sippers

Television

Newer models of televisions don’t cost much to run. The average 32-inch television will cost between $6 and $13 to use for an entire year.

Tips:

  • When you buy a television, be sure to check the yellow Energy Guide to get an estimate of how much it costs to power your TV.
  • If you want a television that consumes less energy, look for an Energy Star television. An Energy Star certification not only ensures that your television runs inexpensively, but also makes sure your new television passes certain performance metrics. In other words, you save energy without sacrificing performance.
Laptops, Tablets, and Phones

We lumped all these electronics together because – more good news – you shouldn’t have to worry about their energy consumption. The annual energy consumption of electronics like these are so low that you should be able to run all of them for a year for less than ten dollars. We recommend turning these devices off, using sleep modes, and unplugging the chargers when the devices are not in use. (Yes, that phone charger draws electricity even when no phone is plugged into it.) That helps ensure the energy consumption stays very low.

Streaming Devices

Good news: streaming devices like Roku, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire consume little energy when being used and on standby mode. Even if you use a streaming device a lot, these devices are incredibly efficient. When streaming HD broadcast, a streaming device will use around 2.4-2.5 watts. In standby mode, streamers use around 2 watts. The average streaming device will consume less than a kilowatt-hour in a month of no use.

 

More Ideas

If you are curious about how much electricity your devices use, a kilowatt meter will measure the exact amount of consumption. Public libraries often have available to check out.

 

If you ever have any questions about your energy bill, reach out to the Citizens Utility Board at (651) 300-4701 or email us at info@cubminnesota.org.

Author: Ana Diaz

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