The Natural Resource Defense Council has released a follow-up to its damning report from May, 2014 about the latest consoles’ standby power consumption, and Microsoft’s Xbox One is still the worst offender. While Sony has followed the original report’s advice and plugged up its largest leak by switching off the USB ports when controllers are fully charged, Microsoft has yet to address The Xbox One’s biggest energy hog: Instant On mode.
By default, when the Xbox One is ostensibly off, it is still actually drawing significant amounts of power as it eagerly waits for someone to say “Xbox On!” While Microsoft has reduced the mode’s power drain from 18 watts to 12.5 watts, it still accounts for nearly 40 percent of the console’s total consumption, which is inexcusable for an optional and largely unnecessary feature.
Xbox Ones sold in Europe do not enable Instant On by default, and instead provide the option to activate it during setup. This empowers users to utilize the feature if they want, while saving money for those that don’t. Consoles in all other countries, including the United States, however, leave the feature on by default, and do not even present the option at setup, which means that many users don’t even realize that they have a choice. The NRDC estimates that we could save up to $250 million in energy bills per year in the United States if the feature was turned off by default, or at least gave users a choice during initial setup.
If you want to turn off Instant On on your Xbox One, head to the Home screen, press the Menu button on the controller, then go to Settings -> Power and Startup, and select the Energy-saving power mode. It should reduce your console’s energy expenditure substantially, and for the low cost of just having to press a button and wait 45 seconds while it boots up.
As a final note, the NRDC’s new report also recommends against using your Xbox or PlayStation to stream movies if you have other options. The gaming consoles draw 30 to 45 times more power to show the same movie as dedicated streaming devices like Apple TV, Roku, or Chromecast.