More and more households are reconsidering their energy habits in a bid to reduce their carbon footprint, and having smart meters makes this even easier to do, enabling homeowners to see impacts on their energy bills directly.
It raises more questions, however – which activities cost the most? Energy efficient appliances, fixtures and fittings populate the market profusely, but what about technology that may have been developed without energy efficiency at the forefront of its planning? We’ve covered whether smart meters really save you money, but having one doesn’t necessarily help when trying to figure out what gadgets or appliances are costing you the most on your electricity bill.
The better the tech, the higher the price
Personally my boyfriend is quite the gamer and it made me wonder how much the hobby costs us monthly. After all, with the wide range of consoles and games to choose from, there’s got to be some tangible financial impact of gamers sitting with their fingers glued to the controller for hours week on week (other than the retail costs).
In fact, according to a report completed by the NRDC, around 10-11 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) per year will be used in the U.S. alone, just from modern games consoles once they’ve replaced their previous generation counterparts, costing more that $1 billion annually.
Recent data from Barb, advises that there are around 7.8 million consoles in the UK so a very rough and ready estimate on overall electricity consumption (mean average per console of £25) might be as much as £195 million.
The kWh used varies amongst consoles, and for how long you’re gaming – for example, according to a report commissioned by British Gas, £1 would give you approximately 22 hours of Xbox One game time, at an average cost of £43 annually. However, £1 would power a PS4 for 25 hours, at an average of £35 annually, much less than its competitors.
Seems like precious little, until you compare it with ‘90s console Nintendo 64, which cost gamers a meagre £11 annually. Maybe those vintage gamers out there are onto something?
The latest-generation consoles use 2 to 3 times more energy than their predecessors
Due to their abundance of smart features, processing and graphics capabilities, the Xbox One and PS4 consoles use up to three times more electricity than the Xbox 360 or PS3, according to the NRDC.
This is especially the case where voice and motion recognition technology is used, which requires keeping the devices in “Instant On” mode for Xbox One, or “Rest Mode” for PS4. These modes benefit the avid gamer in other ways too, making sure you don’t have to wait for updates to be installed as they’re already happening in the background, and enabling you to jump into your game right where you left off.
In this case, the same report found that using the Xbox One “Instant On” accounts for almost half of its annual energy consumption, and for PS4 this still only drops to a third of its annual consumption.
Despite Xbox One consoles drawing less energy during game play than their PS4 counterparts, overall they consume nearly 300kWh of electricity annually, whereas the PS4 only uses 181 kWh of electricity. That’s where the savings are clearest.
You don’t have to compromise your gaming experience to save electricity
Both consoles have incorporated energy-saving features, with various customisation settings available. Using these could reduce your electricity usage, but all the features available through the consoles connected standby modes, like voice and motion control (if using a Kinect), faster booting times and background updates or installations, are disabled – lessening the convenience and dampening the user experience.
If you do decide to forgo energy-saving and opt for the connected standby modes, this is where the PS4 may have the upper hand. Its “Rest Mode” uses much less energy compared with that of the Xbox One, and you can customise it further, disabling features that are less important to you.
Make your gaming experience smarter
An even better solution would be to use a smart plug. We’ve discussed several uses around the home for smart plugs before, and this serves to be just another application of them.
By connecting your games console to the Ledvance Smart+ Plug, you can keep enjoying the convenience and luxury of standby modes without having to worry about excess costs you’ll incur.
Have your plans changed and you’re now not going to be home to resume that game of Modern Warfare? Simply switch off the plug using the app to save energy when you know you won’t be home. Does a game need another half hour to install, but need to leave for work or school? You can leave it to install and simply turn off when you’re sure it had finished.