The amount of energy consumed by video game consoles has increased by almost 50 percent between 2007 and 2010 in the U.S., according to a report out from Carnegie Mellon University (hat tip CNET). As of 2010 game consoles consumed 16 TWh of energy in the U.S., which is about 1 percent of U.S residential electricity consumption.
The energy consumption increase was due partly to the basic fact that overall sales of game consoles have increased. The report found that by the end of 2010, there were over 75 million video game consoles sold via Microsoft’s Xbox 360, Nintendo’s Wii, and Sony’s Play-
But another part of the problem is that the latest consoles have much more high performance computing power, than previous generation consoles. Users are turning to video game consoles to do more than just gaming and consoles can be used to play movies and music and connect to the web.
While the increase in sales, and the increase in performance of game consoles is generally all well and good (we’re not advocating those to go away), the growth in energy consumption is also coming with the estimate that consoles are not powering down and going into idle mode as efficiently as they can. For example the report found that “an average user that never powers down a current model Xbox 360 will consume more than ten times electricity as a similar user who always powers down the console after use.”
That’s the real problem. The report says that there needs to be a much greater incorporation of a default auto power down feature in the consoles, which could lead to electricity consumption reduction of 75 percent and a saving of $1 billion per year in consumer electricity bills.
The report adds that there is a level of uncertainty when trying to study consumer behavior in terms of how often or not they power down their machines after use. But the report accounts for the uncertainty in its results and recommendations.