Friday, 27 April 2012

Auto-off could save three quarters of games console power use

image An article in Energy Efficiency journal has concluded that simply including a default auto power down feature into games consoles could reduce the power they use by as much as 75%.

Back in 2008, the US Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) estimated that more than 40% of all homes in the US contain at least one video games console and together they consumed 16bn KWh per year. The NRDC produced a report – Lowering the Cost of Play – which concluded that power management features in the devices could save around 11bn kWh of electricity per year. That would save more than $1bn and avoid emissions of more than seven million tons of CO2. The report made recommendations for users, manufacturers and games designers for improving the efficiency of current and future consoles.

The recent article in Energy Efficiency journal makes similar estimates of game console power consumption – 11bn KWh in 2007, but rising to 16bn KWh in 2010. This is an increase of 50% in 3 years and equivalent to around 1% of US residential electricity consumption. The rise is put down to market growth, with devices often having new capabilities which in turn increase power consumption.

But the article - Electricity consumption and energy savings potential of video game consoles in the United States – points out that it’s difficult to assess the energy consumption mainly because of the lack of information on the extent to which devices are turned off after use.

The article concludes that just by adding a feature that automatically reduces the power consumption when devices are not actually being used could save 75% of the power used. That equates to a 10bn KWh in 2010 in the US alone, reducing electricity bills by the $1bn that the NRDC was trying to achieve. So an automatic power down feature would be at least as effective as implementing a set of energy efficiency improvements. It would also be much easier to implement and could even be applied retrospectively through firmware updates.


It’s surprising to me that, given the focus on managing power use in PCs and servers, there hasn’t been the same attention given to games consoles. As is clear in the IT industry, by far the easiest way to make savings is to ensure that devices are powered down when not in use. It’s a green ICT lesson that the games manufacturers seem not to have taken on board.

As often seems to be the case, it’s easy solution but with a significant impact on carbon emissions.

(My thanks to for bringing this item to my attention).

© The Green IT Review

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