Video game console usage and US national energy consumption: Results from a field-metering study


There has been an increased in attention placed on the energy consumption of miscellaneous electronic loads in buildings by energy analysts and policymakers in recent years. The share of electricity consumed by consumer electronics in US households has increased in the last decade. Many devices, however, lack robust energy use data, making energy consumption estimates difficult and uncertain. Video game consoles are high-performance machines present in approximately half of all households and can consume a considerable amount of power. The precise usage of game consoles has significant uncertainty, however, leading to a wide range of recent national energy consumption estimates. We present here an analysis based on field-metered usage data, collected as part of a larger field metering study in the USA. This larger study collected data from 880 households in 2012 on a variety of devices, including 113 game consoles (the majority of which are Generation 7 consoles). From our metering, we find that although some consoles are left on nearly 24 h/day, the overall average usage is lower than many other studies have assumed, leading to a US national energy consumption estimate of 7.1 TWh in 2012. Nevertheless, there is an opportunity to reduce energy use with proper game console power management, as a substantial amount of game console usage occurs with the television turned off. The emergence of Generation 8 consoles may increase national energy consumption.

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    Generation 7 consoles include the Microsoft Xbox 360, the Sony PlayStation 3, and the Nintendo Wii. Generation 8 consoles include the Microsoft Xbox One, Sony PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Wii U.

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    Antioch, Berkeley, Emeryville, Fairfax, Fremont, Livermore, Mill Valley, Novato, Oakland, Pleasanton, Richmond, San Leandro, San Rafael, and Union City.

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The work described in this report was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Building Technologies Program under Contract No. DE-AC02-05CH11231.

This report is the product of the efforts by many individuals. First and foremost, we are grateful to Janet Flint, Heather Hochrein, Jodi Pincus, and all the talented Energy Specialists, Leaders in Field Training, Site Managers, and Area Directors at Rising Sun Energy Center for making meter deployment and retrieval a reality. At LBNL, we are extremely grateful to the following staff Research Assistants and students for their dedication in preparing meters, downloading meter data, and/or entering data into databases: Thomas Burke, Sophia Dauria, Kelly Elmore, Riley Foster, Danielle Fox, Jie (Jade) Gu, Karlyn Harrod, Evan Kamei, Colin Lawrence-Toombs, Brian McDevitt, Chun Chun Ni, Alex Valenti, Evangelos Vossos, Marley Walker, and Hung-Chia (Dominique) Yang. Moreover, we are grateful to Thomas Burke and Danielle Fox for script development, process documentation, and troubleshooting of several metering issues, and to Deborah Ash for the procurement and delivery of meters to LBNL, space and storage logistics, and handling and mailing of meters. We thank Heidi Fuchs for some literature research, and Alison Williams and the anonymous reviewers for insightful comments that greatly improved this paper. Finally, we are grateful to Gregory J. Rosenquist and Alex Lekov, project co-leaders of the LBNL Energy Efficiency Standards Group, for providing high-level project support and encouragement.

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Correspondence to Louis-Benoit Desroches.

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Desroches, L., Greenblatt, J.B., Pratt, S. et al. Video game console usage and US national energy consumption: Results from a field-metering study. Energy Efficiency 8, 509–526 (2015).

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  • Video game consoles
  • Energy use
  • Electricity consumption
  • Energy efficiency