Video game systems: Energy vampires?

Since October is Energy Awareness Month, we wanted to share the latest research on video game energy consumption. Energy Services Representative Paula Fronk, at the Colorado River Storage Project Management Center, and her son Brady undertook the investigation of a common household energy consumer—the video game system.

With more than 40 percent of all homes in the United State owning video game consoles, the Natural Resource Defense Council estimates that these consoles consume about 16 billion kilowatt-hours each year—roughly, the electricity annually used by the city of San Diego. These deceptively small but greedy energy thieves are driving up electric bills, particularly in homes with multiple game systems or gamers.

The Fronk family found evidence that some systems use significantly more energy than others. Even so, the total energy consumption over a year is minor until you factor in the monitor’s energy use. Also, leaving the game in “idle” mode for hours on end to save a gaming session or downloading content consumes almost as much power as active play. If there is more than one gamer in the house, the electricity use—and dollars—can really add up.

I’ve seen our electric bill,” admitted Brady as he became more aware of the different aspects of energy use. “Playing isn’t the only way gaming uses electricity. When you download a game over the Internet, it can take hours, and the computer or system has to be on the whole time. Imagine thousands of people downloading those games. The energy use is amazing.”

To see the console energy use results and hear more about this topic, see the Energy Services Bulletin’s August 2010 issue. The ESB monthly provides energy related articles.

You can also download the pdf “Video Games: Energy Heist?” fact sheet, from Energy Services’ site.


  • By Peter Q, October 6, 2010 @ 11:27 am

    The energy usage definitely must add up when you factor in the size of some peoples televisions

  • By DIY Boats, October 10, 2010 @ 7:01 am

    Fascenating. Didn’t think of energy usage from this perspecitve. Nice info.

  • By Beth, October 12, 2010 @ 4:45 pm

    I totally agree — I don’t have the video games, but I definitely use the computer alot…but I make sure to turn if off when I am either going out, or just not using it.

  • By Video Game Syndrome, November 4, 2010 @ 10:03 pm

    I think that’s true. When I turn don’t play on my consoles for a month I save quite a bit on my electricity bills.

  • By Gran Turismo 5, January 2, 2011 @ 4:25 pm

    Everyone knows that a better world starts at home…..But some racing games or other games are too addictive to stop playing….But I did not know that they consume so much energy!

  • By Diane, March 8, 2011 @ 6:58 am

    This is so true – I have also learned to unplug appliances, lights, and other items when they are not being used. One example is my phone charger — I use it about once a month, so I unplug it when it’s not being used….several of these items being unplugged has made a difference in my energy consumption

  • By naturalis, March 17, 2011 @ 4:12 pm

    I agree with Diane there, saving energy should be done whenever possible. Read a bit about energy efficient houses its great investment.

  • By Sherry, March 29, 2011 @ 5:24 am

    I totally agree – just cutting back and unplugging appliances and lamps, etc. that are rarely used is a big reduction in our monthly energy costs.

  • By going green, June 4, 2011 @ 1:31 pm

    Never gave to much thought of leaving the pc on when not in use until now. Great info.

  • By Tim @ Buy PS Vita, October 12, 2011 @ 2:46 pm

    I never used to bother with any electrical appliances. I watched a documentary years ago that showed the impact on the environment. I was really shocked at how much we waste. I make it habit to switch everything off now!

  • By B&B Nicolosi, January 27, 2012 @ 5:24 am

    The videogames companies should help solve this problem reducing the quantity of electricity needed by a console or simply eliminating the “stand by” system

  • By Robert, January 30, 2012 @ 7:49 am

    I think other web-site proprietors should take this website as an model, very clean and excellent user friendly style and design, as well as the content. You’re an expert in this topic! Good Work keep it up i will for sure tell my friends about this useful piece of information.

  • By Christina Lawrence, March 2, 2012 @ 9:08 pm

    Thanks for sharing superb informations. Your web-site is very cool. I am impressed by the details that you have on this blog. It reveals how nicely you perceive this subject. Bookmarked this website page, will come back for more articles. You, my pal, ROCK! I found simply the information I already searched everywhere and just couldn’t come across. What a great web site.

  • By olive garden coupons, May 22, 2012 @ 2:26 am

    Whats Happening i am new to this, I stumbled upon this I’ve discovered It positively useful and it has helped me out loads. I’m hoping to contribute & help different users like its helped me. Good job.

  • By strategy review, May 17, 2013 @ 12:13 pm

    Yeah, this gave me a wake up call. If I want to save money from my electric bill, I will stop playing Guild Wars 2 and SWTOR.

Other Links to this Post

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.