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CEIC-11-01

"Power Consumption of Video Game Consoles Under Realistic Usage Patterns"
E. Hittinger

Abstract:
Video game consoles are becoming increasingly common in living rooms around America and can consume large amounts of electricity when in use. There have been a few studies in recent years examining the energy consumption of video game consoles, but bottom line figures rely strongly on assumptions about how the game consoles are used, and many of the assumptions used in earlier work are not in agreement with recently published usage patterns. This study merges the power consumption data from earlier work with newer video game console usage information to produce more accurate figures describing the overall energy use of video game consoles. By using more accurate data, this study comes to notably different conclusions than previous investigations.

Previous work has overlooked both the effect of the WiiConnect24 service and the fact that the average Wii is used three times less than an average Xbox 360 or PS3. Taking these into account, the electricity consumption per hour of active use of the Nintendo Wii console is actually much higher than previously assumed and is higher than both the PS3 and the Xbox 360 under most reasonable scenarios.

The WiiConnect24 service, which is active by default for a Wii console connected to the Internet, greatly increases the standby power of the Wii from 2 Watts to 9 Watts. Since most Wii consoles have been connected to the Internet, it is possible that the majority of Wii consoles have this service enabled. Taking the usage of the consoles into account, it is shown that the average Wii (with WiiConnect24 enabled) uses 550 Wh of electricity for each hour of use, which is significantly higher than the figures for the currently available Xbox 360 (125 Wh per hour of use) and PS3 (107 Wh per hour of use) consoles. Additionally, the average Wii (with WiiConnect24 enabled) consumes 97% of its electricity when it is in standby mode, versus 10 - 30% for the other consoles. Even with WiiConnect24 disabled, the average Wii consumes approximately the same amount of electricity for each hour of use as currently available models of PS3 and Xbox 360.

Of most importance for consumers, it is shown that the total energy consumption of any of the video game consoles is small compared to the average residential electricity load, as long as the console is powered down when not in use. Even the console with highest annual electricity consumption, a launch model Xbox 360, accounts for only 1% of average residential electricity consumption under average usage patterns (or 2% if a 150W HDTV is also included). But if left on continuously, the same console would account for 15% of the average electricity load (25% with an HDTV left on as well). Additionally, the cost of electricity to operate a console is shown to be negligibly small compared with the cost of the system, games, and peripheral devices.

Even though the current generation consoles differ in their services and energy use, their effect on total electricity use is quite small as long as they are powered down after use. Thus, gamers interested in reducing their energy use should concern themselves with more prominent energy use (such as transportation, heating/AC, or lighting), rather than fret over which video game console to purchase.

Download the pdf file here