Computer's energy costs

How much energy is being sucked up by the technology around your home? And what can you do about it?
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04.Our energy tests

We conducted our own tests on several household electronic devices, revealing just how much energy each consumes. Several tests were conducted on each device, testing levels of power consumption under the following conditions:

  • Standby mode
    Turned on at the wall with the device itself switched off via remote control. This is usually indicated by an LED light on the device.
  • On but idle
    Turned on at the wall with the device turned on but not in use. This is indicated by the device clearly being on. It's sometimes called 'active standby'.
  • On and in use
    Turned on at the wall with the device switched on and in active use.
    We then calculated approximately how much energy was being used, in kilowatts, and how much such use would cost at 15 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). See the Power usage table for the results.

What we found

The device that consumed the most power in our test when in use was the PlayStation 3, closely followed by the Xbox 360 and Plasma TV. Even when idle (on, but no in use), these systems consumed the most power of the devices tested. Incredibly, the Playstation 3 consumed over 10 times as much power as the Nintendo Wii.

Our tests also found that leaving a PlayStation 3 on while not in use would cost almost $250 a year in electricity bills (charged at 15c per kWh). This alone is around five times more than it would take to run a refrigerator for the same yearly period.

Xbox 360The Xbox 360 was not far behind the PlayStation 3 in energy usage costs per year, serving as an important reminder to turn off videogame systems after use.

The Plasma TV set was also a power hungry device, consuming over four times more power than a traditional CRT analogue TV set. The average desktop PC (tested independently of its required monitor) was third on the list.

Interestingly, its Apple-equivalent, the iMac (an all-in-one computer that includes a built-in display), consumed two thirds as much power as the Windows-based PC, which was tested independently from a required external display. The LCD computer monitor tested was found to be far more energy efficient than it’s CRT predecessor. The CRT used more than double the power of the LCD display.

Using just the results from our test of common household devices (see Power usage) you can see that just leaving a desktop PC, LCD monitor, wireless router, plasma TV and DVD player switched on every day costs around $450 a year. Left in standby mode, these devices would cost around $15 for the same period, not to mention save on carbon emissions.


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