I always thought the air-conditioner or refrigerator burned the most energy in the home, but I’m wrong.
The New York Times reports that the little boxes that transmit cable signals and digital recording capacity to televisions have become the single largest electricity drain in many American homes.
Some typical home entertainment systems consume more power than a new refrigerator and even some central air-conditioning systems, the Times writes.
Many homes now have one or more basic cable boxes as well as add-on DVRs, or digital video recorders, which use 40 percent more power than the set-top box, the Times writes.
One high-definition DVR and one high-definition cable box use an average of 446 kilowatt hours a year — about 10 percent more than a 21-cubic-foot energy-efficient refrigerator, a recent study found.
These set-top boxes are energy hogs mostly because their drives, tuners and other components are generally running full tilt, or nearly so, 24 hours a day, even when not in active use, the Times writes.
A study by the Natural Resources Defense Council said the boxes consumed $3 billion in electricity per year in the United States — and that 66 percent of that power is wasted when no one is watching and shows are not being recorded, the Times writes.
The perpetually “powered on” state is largely a function of design and programming choices made by electronics companies and cable and Internet providers, the Times writes. Fixes exist, but they are not currently being mandated or deployed in the U.S., critics say.
Similar devices in some European countries, for example, can automatically go into standby mode when not in use, cutting power drawn by half, the Times writes. They can also go into an optional “deep sleep,” which can reduce energy consumption by about 95 percent compared with when the machine is active, the Times reports.
- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat
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