Energy Tip of the Week (8/5/11)

Posted: July 6, 2011

Set-top boxes are the #1 household energy drain

By Philip Proefrock Posted Wed Jul 6, 2011 10:42am PDT A recent study by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) finds that cable and digital recording devices are now "the single largest electricity drain in many American homes." The study found that "In 2010, set-top boxes in the United States consumed approximately 27 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, which is equivalent to the annual output of nine average (500 MW) coal-fired power plants." This power consumption translates to roughly $3 billion in annual electricity costs paid by consumers, as well as being responsible for the release of 16 million metric tons of CO2 emissions each year. Furthermore, according to the NRDC report, an average HD set-top cable box and HD-DVR uses more energy (446 kWh/year) than an average 21 cubic foot Energy Star refrigerator (415 kWh/year). Even worse than the "standby drain" of electricity used by equipment in a supposedly "off" position, many of these television set-top boxes - which include cable and satellite equipment, digital video recorders (DVR), and the like - are on 24 hours a day. Power strips can be useful for turning off these vampire loads, but consumers are reluctant to use those when they want their DVRs to be able to record programs. NRDC points out that these devices could be designed to be more energy efficient, but that the service companies who provide these to consumers feel little incentive to do so, since it is the end users who pay for that power use. Thank you for your continued support.

Last Updated: August 12, 2011