Everywhere you look right now you see green this, green that. It’s on the tip of everyone who loves a debate’s tongue, and is debated at al levels of society and industry. The one place that’s escaped the notion of green computing is something that pretty much every home has these days – games consoles.
The report claims that across the US, video game consoles can consume the same amount of power as it would take to light up all of the homes in San Diego, and the bulk of energy consumption actually takes place while the system sits on standby.
NRDC Senior Scientist Noah Horowitz said, “If you leave your Xbox 360 or Sony PlayStation 3 on all the time, you can cut your electric bill by as much as $100 a year simply by turning it off when you are finished playing”.
“With so many struggling in today’s economy, it’s important to realize there are simple steps gamers can take to lower their energy costs. And if manufacturers make future systems more energy efficient, they’ll be doing the right thing for consumers’ pockets, for our clean energy future, and for the environment.”
The NRDC report detailed the amount of energy consumption Xbox 360’s, Playstation 3 and the Nintendo Wii use when they are active, on standby or turned off.
The research found that on average, the PS3 and 360 used a huge 150 watts and 119 watts, respectively. Over a year the two systems used more than 1,000 kilowatt-hours is they were left on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which is equal to running two fridges at the same time, for the same length of time – but in reality I’ve never heard of an Xbox 360 can manage that task… but I digress.
The Wii was much more economical, using just 20 watts of electricity, which is less that the Wii’s big brother, the GameCube. The other consoles used far more power than their earlier models.
“Video game consoles are really just specialized computers, and most computers, especially laptops, have really sophisticated energy management technology,” said Nick Zigelbaum, an energy analyst at NRDC. He believes energy efficiency, “is just something these companies have not connected with their products”.
The main reason for the 360 and PS3’s high energy consumption is down to the systems high-definition capabilities. Using these functions cause the consoles to work extremely hard, creating huge energy levels, and continues even after the consoles is switched off.
The PS3 for example, uses five times as much power than that of a standard Sony Blu-ray DVD player, playing the same movie.
The NRDC recommends that manufacturers should incorporate more energy efficient components and automatic energy management features.
“It would just be default like when you’re typing something in Word and you close your laptop. You don’t lose the document you were working on. It’s been saved, most of the time whether you chose to save it or not. That kind of communication and coordination is something that should start happening in the gaming industry,” Zigelbaum said.
Zigelbaum noted that power saving methods is catching on these days. He aid that it used to be that many people would leave lights on when they left a room, but now people are switching off.
“The work that is going forward now by Microsoft and Sony to include some auto-off features are a really good and necessary step. Now the focus is on how to make those features work the way they want them to and the way we want them to work,” he continued.