Want to save $145 this year? If you play the 2006 version of the Sony PlayStation3, it's as easy as shutting the video game console off when you're not playing a game.
The 2006 PS3 was the biggest energy hog, but not by much. The 2007 model can waste as much as $122 and the 2008 Microsoft XBox 360 wastes as much as $129 per year, if left powered up when not in use.
That's according to a new Natural Resources Defense Council analysis of the energy consumption of popular video game consoles.
More than 40% of American households have at least one video game console, and a staggering 50% of users leave them on all the time, even when not actively playing a game. All told, video gaming in America uses as much energy each year as is consumed by the city of San Diego, Calif.
Substantial energy savings can come immediately from users turning their consoles off when not in use. The next and ultimately bigger and better step would be to have manufacturers develop automatic shut-off features that save energy when the game goes idle. Doing so could prevent 7 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution from the power plants that produce all that electricity, and it could save Americans $1 billion on electricity bills. (Just think of that for a minute: We waste $1 billion every year not playing video games.)
The study revealed that the Nintendo Wii is the shining star, when it comes to energy savings. It costs one-fifth as much to operate, in play mode, as the biggest energy hog, the 2006 PS3. Here's a look at how the most popular gaming systems ranked, by cost per year, if turned off when not in use (first figure) and if left on (second figure):
Game System - Cost
Nintendo Wii - $3 / $10
XBox 360 2007 - $11 / $103
PS3 2007 - $12 / $134
XBox 360 2008 - $14 / $143
PS3 2006 - $15 / $160
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