, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 531-545

Electricity consumption and energy savings potential of video game consoles in the United States

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Abstract

Total energy consumption of video game consoles has grown rapidly in the past few decades due to rapid increases in market penetration, power consumption of the devices, and increasing usage driven by new capabilities. Unfortunately, studies investigating the energy impacts of these devices have been limited and potential responses, such as ENERGY STAR requirements, have been difficult to define and implement. We estimate that the total electricity consumption of video game consoles in the US was around 11 TWh in 2007 and 16 TWh in 2010 (approximately 1 % of US residential electricity consumption), an increase of almost 50 % in 3 years. However, any estimate of total game console energy consumption is highly uncertain, and we have determined that the key uncertainty is the unknown consumer behavior with regards to powering down the system after use. Even under this uncertainty, we demonstrate that the most effective energy-saving modification is incorporation of a default auto power down feature, which could reduce electricity consumption of game consoles by 75 % (10 TWh reduction of electricity in 2010), saving consumers over $1 billion annually in electricity bills. We conclude that using an auto power down feature for game consoles is at least as effective for reducing energy consumption as implementing a strict set of energy efficiency improvements for the devices, is much easier to implement given the nature of the video game console industry, and could be applied retroactively to currently deployed consoles through firmware updates.