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From classics like Tetris and the Legend of Zelda, to newer best-sellers like World of Warcraft and Call of Duty, and everything in between, video games are more popular than ever. Over 164 million people play video games in the United States, and three-quarters of all Americans have at least one gamer in their household.
When we read that statistic with our “energy consumption” filter, we translate as, “three-quarters of all Americans have a video game console in their home.” Given how energy-intensive these devices can be, that means it is critically important for you to select the best energy-efficient video game consoles for your home in order to minimize the impact of your household gaming on your electricity bill!
Not sure how to identify which console will prioritize energy efficiency and meet or even exceed the performance demands of your favorite games!
Gaming in Numbers
First things first, let’s get a handle on the amount of gaming in the US, because it’s probably more widespread than you think! With the wide selection of genres available, people spanning all ages, genders, and ethnicities are getting in on gaming.
According to the Entertainment Software Association, nearly 80 percent of gamers revealed that games served as a way to relieve stress, relax, and provide mental stimulation. Video games are also increasingly used for educational purposes and family bonding time.
There is no doubt that the gaming industry is growing and will continue to do so in the years to come.
How Much Electricity Do Video Games Require?
As the prevalence of video games increases, have you ever considered the amount of energy that’s required to play these games?
Depending on the system you choose to play on, your price of electricity, and the intensity of your gaming, the annual electricity costs for your video game console can range from $5 up to about $400 per year. Globally, PC gamers alone use about 75 billion kilowatt hours of electricity a year. That is equivalent to the output of 25 electric power plants and doesn’t even include video game console energy consumption. And since this post focuses more specifically on video game console energy consumption, you might be equally surprised to learn that game consoles in the US consume as much electricity every year as all the homes in Houston, the fourth-largest city in the country! Consumers are paying more than $1 billion per year to operate these consoles!
Pretty staggering, right?! Wondering where that energy comes from?
There are two primary drivers of electricity consumption when it comes to gaming. The first is graphics. Part of what makes gaming so enticing is the graphics. From the array of characters within a game, to its vibrant life-like storyline, a game’s graphics rely on high-quality, high-performance graphics cards. And these cards consume massive amounts of energy to provide that performance.
A few years ago, a father and son team—Evan and Nathaniel Mills—researched just how much power these cards used. In fact, just one graphics card can draw 500 watts per hour of use! Shocked by their findings, the father-son duo started gaming a bit less and looked further into the energy usage required to run a gaming computer. This research wasn’t merely happenstance. Evan Mills was a scientist, energy expert, and a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He earned a monetary grant and since then has expanded his research to further understand the energy requirements of video games on consoles and computers.
The second driver of video game console electricity consumption is all the other features. From wireless controller charging, to voice control, to UBS ports, video game consoles continue to draw electricity even when they are not in use.
In fact, of the $1 billion that consumers pay to operate gaming consoles in the US, $400 million of that is consumed in the middle of the night when the console is in standby mode but still “listening” for voice commands (in the case of Xbox One) or using excess energy to keep USB ports active (in the case of PS4).
The Best Energy-Efficient Video Game Consoles
Let’s face it, video games have come a long way in the past 30 years and the pixelated, slow moving action of retro arcade games simply isn’t acceptable in the gaming world of today. Fluidity and high-resolution graphics are important components for immersing oneself into the game.
And the best energy-efficient video game consoles enable you to save money through minimal power consumption without foregoing performance:
How to Minimize Your Game Console’s Energy Use
So you’ve selected one of the best energy-efficient video game consoles for your home. Great first step!
Even with these consoles, new industry options like wireless controllers, voice command, body gestures, internet connectivity, can require excess electricity. That said, there are many easy setting changes that you can change to minimize the energy consumed by your video game console. That way the weekly family game night isn’t costing you an arm and a leg in electricity bills!
Here are four tried and true tips to save electricity and money while still enjoying your favorite video games:
Activate Power Saving
Most video game consoles offer power saving settings that can improve their energy efficiency. For example, Xbox One comes set-up to listen for the “Xbox On” command to turn on. But with its “Energy-saving” Power Mode, you can disable this feature and drop the consoles standby power use by 98 percent! Similarly, the Play Station 4 (PS4) comes set to enter a low power “Rest” mode after one hour of inactivity, but you can reduce that period of time to save additional electricity and money.
Stay On Top Of Software Updates
As game developers and console manufacturers become more conscious of gaming’s environmental impact, they have begun to integrate energy-saving features in new software updates. So staying on top of these updates will help your maximize your console’s energy efficiency and, in turn, minimize your gaming-related electricity costs! For example, thanks to new software updates, PS4 now automatically drops the power consumption of USB ports once controllers are fully charged. This decreases the console’s standby power consumption by over 65 percent!
Stick To Gaming
It can be temptingly convenient to use your gaming console to also stream your favorite show on Netflix. But digital media players like Roku, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire Stick use on average 15 times less energy than video game consoles to perform the same task! Better yet, if you have a Smart TV, that is even less energy intensive than using a separate streaming device to binge your favorite show, allowing to indulge that much more
Turn Off Accessories & Features
In addition to configuring your console’s settings to minimize energy requirements, set your controllers to turn themselves off when not in use. In the case of Xbox, turning off the “Kinect” accessory that recognizes body movements can save considerable energy costs over time. Follow these tips and you’ll quickly be able to reduce the amount of electricity your favorite games consume.
For additional energy saving tips, check out the results of the Mills’ research.
Get Your Game On
If you or your loved one has jumped on the game train, more power to you! We love a good game of Minecraft every now and then ourselves. By selecting one of the best energy-efficient video game consoles for your home and configuring it to optimize its energy-saving offerings, you can get your game on without a fear of an exorbitant electricity bill at the end of the month.
Curious about other major drivers of electricity consumption at home and pro tips to minimize their impact? Check out the power consumption of any device at WattDoesItUse and subscribe to the blog for weekly updates on all-things energy efficiency and energy conservation.