Study: Offline consoles devour $1.24 billion of electricity annually

study offline consoles devour 1 24 billion of electricity annually lightning

Assuming you aren’t playing video games at this very moment, it’s quite likely that your console of choice is sitting on a shelf or entertainment center, powered down, waiting for your return. By all rights, that console shouldn’t be sucking down huge amounts of electricity, right? I mean, it’s just sitting there. Sure, there’s a red light indicating that the thing isn’t broken, but how much energy is needed to power that stupid little indicator?

According to a new study from researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, that console (and millions of others like it) is still pulling down vast amounts of power, to the tune of $1.24 billion every year.

The underlying problem here is that modern consoles, unlike the classic 8- and 16-bit machines we grew up with, never actually power down completely. Unless you physically unplug the thing or flip a switch on the power strip it’s anchored to, your PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 merely goes into idle mode when you instruct it to shut down. While idle the machine does drain far less energy than it would if you were playing Halo or Uncharted, but given that the consoles are often left in this idle state for hours or days at a time, the study claims that 68 percent of all energy consumed by gaming machines is devoured when they’re seemingly inactive.

As a result, idle American gaming consoles used 10.8 terawatt hours of energy in 2010, which translates to a total energy cost of more than $1.24 billion dollars.

That figure is a bit too astronomical for the average person to comprehend, so let’s put it this way: According to the study (PDF), if Sony and Microsoft were to implement automatic shutdown protocols in their machines that actually curtail energy consumption, the average console could pull down an estimated 75 percent less electricity, saving the average user between $30 and $100 annually.

Not mentioned in the study, though likewise beneficial, are the savings this would generate in pure console longevity. If the machine is truly off, it isn’t coursing with electricity. Less electricity means less wear and tear on the console, which translates to a longer lifespan for the machine. Those of you on your third or fourth Xbox 360 know exactly how frustrating it is to have to shell out for a new system when your old one suddenly decides to give up the ghost.

In the meantime, those of you interested in lessening your energy consumption can take very simple steps to ensure that your idle consoles aren’t costing you money. When you’re done playing, simply unplug the system from the wall (making sure to power it down properly beforehand). If you’re using multiple consoles, plug them all into the same power strip, then flick the switch on the strip to kill power to all of its attached devices. It’s an extra few seconds of work, but think of it this way: If you spend an extra few seconds shutting down your console properly, over the course of a year you will have saved enough cash to buy a brand new game (or a really ugly pair of pants).

Gaming

These are the best video games you shouldn't leave 2018 without

Developers showed up with a number of amazing games this year. Each capitalized on something unique but there's always one that outdoes them all. Here are our picks for the best video games of 2018 and game of the year.
Gaming

How do Nintendo Switch, Xbox One X compare to each other? We find out

The Nintendo Switch is innovative enough to stand apart from traditional consoles, but could it become your primary gaming system? How does the Switch stack up against the Xbox One?
Deals

Check out the best Xbox One deals and bundles for December 2018

Microsoft's consoles are just as capable of streaming movies as they are of playing the latest games. Check out our top Xbox One deals and bundles, which include new and upcoming triple-A games like Battlefield V and Fallout 76.
Gaming

The most common Nintendo 3DS problems, and how to fix them

The Nintendo 3DS has seen its fair share of issues since it launched in 2011, including poor battery life and fragile Circle Pads. Here are some of the most common, as well as the steps you can take to solve them.
Gaming

The most common Xbox One X problems, and how to fix them

The Xbox One X is a brilliant console, but it's not without its issues, ranging from simple annoyances to severe hardware problems. Here are common Xbox One X problems and how to fix them.
Gaming

Skateboarding legend says ‘Tony Hawk’s Skate Jam’ will appeal to his fans

Tony Hawk's Skate Jam is now available for free on iOS and Android devices, and Digital Trends had the chance to talk to the legendary skater about its development and how it captures the magic of his best games.
Gaming

Cops called to handle ‘Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’ noise end up playing the game

A group of friends were playing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on the Nintendo Switch when cops arrived to respond to noise complaints from neighbors. In an unexpected twist, the officers ended up playing the game, too.
Gaming

The third DLC for ‘Spider-Man’ swings onto PlayStation 4 next week

The third part of Spider-Man's episodic DLC, Silver Lining, releases on December 21. The episode focuses on Silver Sable and Hammerhead, and it includes three new suits for Peter Parker.
Gaming

Spawn creator suggests the antihero could appear in ‘Mortal Kombat 11’

Spawn creator Todd McFarlane hinted that the comic book antihero could join the cast of Mortal Kombat 11 during a Reddit AMA. Spawn previously appeared in SoulCalibur II on the original Xbox.
Gaming

Hey, Sony! If you make a PS2 Classic, it needs these games

158 million PS2 consoles were sold worldwide during its lifecycle, making it the most successful video game console of all time. It was hard, but we narrowed down the PS2's vast library of games. Here are the best PS2 games of all time.
Gaming

Grabbing a Switch for the holidays? Here's what you need to know to play online

If you want to play online multiplayer on Switch, you'll need a Nintendo Switch Online subscription. Here's what you need to know about Nintendo Switch Online, from price to features to the awesome library of NES games.
Gaming

You're not a true fan without these Nintendo Switch exclusives

Who doesn't love a good Nintendo game? If you're looking for great first-party titles for your Nintendo Switch, take a look at our list of the very best exclusives available right now.
Gaming

Check out the best deals from GameStop’s Game Days Sale

GameStop has hundreds of games available for discounted prices between now and December 25 as part of its Game Days Sale. We checked out the deals and have rounded up all of the best Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One deals here.
Gaming

Trash at 'Super Smash Bros. Ultimate'? Use this guide to train up and get good

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the biggest game in the entire series, and it can be overwhelming for newcomers not used to the universe-colliding fighting game. Here's what you need to know when you're starting.