How Much Energy Does Your Media Room Use?

By Josh Crank, June 14, 2018, Energy Efficiency

On one hand, many of today’s latest electronics are more energy-efficient than their predecessors. On the other hand, we’re using more of those electronics at once in the typical home media room. What used to just be a TV and maybe a VCR is now a TV plus a video game console, DVR, cable box and DVD player.

Each piece by itself may not make much of a dent in your monthly utility bill, but add them all together, and you could be looking at a high price for home entertainment. Let’s break down the entertainment center piece by piece to find out which devices are costing you — and what you can do to make them more energy-efficient.

How Much Energy Does Your Media Room Use? | Bounce Energy Blog

Televisions

When we took a look at TV energy consumption earlier this year, we saw that modern flat screens are extremely-energy efficient, even when they have integrated smart technology. Most TVs manufactured in the last 12 years are likely to draw 250 watts or fewer, and the most recent models draw fewer than 150 watts. In our example of a 200 watt TV that is used three hours per day at an electricity rate of $.10 per kWh, the energy cost came to six cents per day, or $21.90 per year.

But you can dial down the energy consumption even more — adjusting the brightness or turning off “standby” mode can make a difference. And if you’re shopping for a new TV, remember that the bigger the TV, the bigger the energy demands.

Video Game Consoles

Today’s video games are more realistic than ever before, and it takes a powerful processor to display those graphics. As a result of this trend, consoles have also become bigger energy hogs. As consoles have become more multifaceted to offer capabilities like video streaming and web browsing, their energy demands have only grown.

The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) called out the console industry for energy waste in a 2014 report, pointing out that much of the power drawn by consoles is consumed during “standby” mode, while no one is playing or watching. According to the report, the PS4 energy consumption rate is the highest during gameplay and video streaming at 89 watts per hour, but its standby power mode is about twice as efficient as the Xbox One. The Xbox One energy consumption during gameplay and streaming is 72 watts per hour, but it had the highest overall annual rate because its “always-on” features are constantly listening for voice commands.

Nintendo’s latest console, the Nintendo Switch, is far more efficient by comparison, drawing between 11 and 16.5 watts during use and 9.8 to 12.1 watts when charging.

Based on a $.10 per kWh rate and a 1 hour per day of game play and streaming, these consoles’ yearly costs are as follows:

  • PS4: 0.089 kilowatts per hour x 1 hour = 0.089 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per day, about $3.25 per year
  • Xbox One: 0.072 kilowatts x 1 hour = 0.072 kWh per day, about $2.63 per year
  • Nintendo Switch: 0.0165 kilowatts x 1 hour = 0.0165 kWh, about $.60 per year

The aforementioned standby power increases this usage and cost. The Environmental Protection Agency offers energy saving tips for console users, such as configuring energy management settings, turning off controllers when they’re not in use and using different devices for video streaming.

How Much Energy Does Your Media Room Use? | Bounce Energy Blog

Cable Boxes and DVRs

If you pay for television service, chances are you have at least one set-top box in your home, and you might have multiple boxes for each TV. Both DVRs and standard cable boxes are considered set-top boxes, as well as smaller “thin client” boxes and digital TV adapters offered by cable companies. And depending on how old they are, they could be running up your electricity bill unnecessarily.

The NRDC criticized the manufacturers of these devices in a 2011 report, finding that set-top boxes nationwide were consuming about 27 billion kilowatt hours of electricity, equivalent to the output of nine coal-fired power plants. But in the years since, those manufacturers have made their devices dramatically more efficient.

What this means for you: if you have an older set-top box, especially one manufactured before 2013, contact your TV service provider to ask about exchanging it for the latest version. It could be the easiest and most effective energy-saving upgrade in your whole media room.

DVD and Blu-Ray Players

While game consoles and set-top boxes may stretch your energy budget, there’s one device that shouldn’t keep you up at night: your disc player. Whether you use DVD or Blu-Ray, these players generally draw between 10 and 20 watts per hour. If you have a 20 watt DVD player and an electricity rate of $.10, it’s costing you less than half a penny to watch a two hour movie (not including the cost of running your TV).

Still, there are ways of minimizing this device’s energy use. Some models of disc players qualify for ENERGY STAR certification, and most have some sort of energy-saving feature. These features may not be automatically enabled, and some unnecessary “always-on” features may be automatically enabled, so it’s important to check your player’s manual to ensure you’re taking advantage of every energy efficiency setting.

Even though media electronics are becoming more energy efficient all the time, you should always keep in mind that they add up. If you don’t phase out the use of older electronics as you acquire new ones, those little drips of wasted energy can turn into a torrent.

And if there’s a device in your entertainment center that you only use rarely, the smartest thing to do is unplug it until next time.

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