With features like voice commands, built-in controller chargers, cable integration, and off-screen gaming; it’s hard to find a reason to turn off your consoles during this new generation of hardware. The PS4, Wii U, and Xbox One all offer a variety of reasons why you might want to leave your console in standby mode, rather than powering all the way down. Whether we’ve noticed it or not, it looks like we may be paying for that decision every month when the utility bills arrive.
A report issues last week by the Natural Resources Defense Council revealed the nonprofit organization’s findings on the power usage in each of the three newest consoles. The Wii U managed to come in relatively unscathed compared to the Microsoft and Sony hardware. The report recommended that Nintendo disable (or change the frequency) of the ‘automatic power down enabled’ reminder notifications, but aside from that, the year and a half old Nintendo console isn’t sucking up quite as much wattage as 2013’s new machines…
The report called out the manufacturers on causing consumers to use a lot more power than previous console generations due to poor performance optimization…
“Gamers shouldn’t be locked into higher electric bills for the lifetime of their consoles just because manufacturers haven’t optimized the performance of their products,” said Pierre Delforge, NRDC director of high-tech energy efficiency, whose team performed the testing. “This wastes energy and money, and causes unnecessary pollution from power plants.
“But if Microsoft and Sony follow NRDC’s recommendations, they could cut the new consoles’ electricity use by one-fourth beyond current projections through software and hardware optimizations, saving U.S. consumers $250 million on their annual utility bills and enough energy to power all the households in San Jose, America’s 10th-largest city,” he said.
The report went on to criticize the amount of standby power used by the PS4. The power is utilized with USB charging, but still drains on wattage when not actively being used. The console could also cut down usage during streaming video playback. The PS4 uses more energy than the Microsoft console when it is playing games, but the Xbox One pulls enough watts outside of gaming that it is still the biggest energy offender.
The Kinect is always listening for that ‘Xbox on’ command, which means that the peripheral always requires power. The console eats up about 15.7 watts while in standby mode (compared to the Wii U’s 0.4 and the PS4’s 8.5). That means that waiting around for someone to use a voice command to turn on the console accounts for roughly 44% of the console’s annual power consumption. The console’s cable integration didn’t help its case either. Using the Xbox One to watch TV requires an additional 72 watts compared to traditional TV consumption, according to the report. The voice commands are incredibly convenient for fast channel navigation, but users will have to decide for themselves if that convenience is worth seeing a spike in the monthly power bill.
If every last-generation console owner (roughly 110 million consumers) were to upgrade to one of the three newest consoles, the total energy consumption would be enough to power every house in Houston, Texas. Currently, the three new consoles are already squandering about $400 million worth of electricity while waiting for voice commands or charging controllers in standby mode. That number may drop down quite a bit now that gamers will be able to pick the Xbox One without the Kinect, but there’s no doubt that the power usage will still be much higher than the previous generation’s.
Will the findings of the report make you change the way you use one of your new consoles? If so, how? Let us know in the comments.
Follow Denny on Twitter @The_DFC.