Exorcising the Energy Vampires

I’ve seen a decent amount of energy waste coverage lately. The general theme has been specific to devices that consume electricity while in standby mode or even powered off. While I’m lazier than I am cost conscious or environmentally aware, it did get me wondering what exactly goes on in my apartment.

So I went around my place with a Kill A Watt measuring the consumption levels of various digital media hardware (and a few other devices for comparison) when not actively engaged.

Some interesting discoveries… The Netflix Roku box draws the same amount of power (5 watts) when not in use as my DivX-capable Philips DVD player when in use. Our Staples shredder draws 2 watts when in standby and when powered “off.” Most surprising, though, are my two Panasonic HDTVs which appear to pull less than 1 watt when shut down - kinda negating a lot of the bad press, if accurate. (One set confirmed by CNET. Perhaps older televisions are more demanding.) Here’s the complete breakdown:

  • Watts - Device
  • 42 - TiVo Series 3
  • 38 - TiVo HD
  • 18 - Vudu
  • 8 - Ooma Hub
  • 7 - Slingbox Solo
  • 5 - Roku Netflix box
  • 3 - Panasonic cordless phone
  • 3 - Maxtor OneTouch 4
  • 2 - Xbox 360
  • 2 - Shredder
  • 1 - Sony alarm clock radio

Obiovusly various components are consuming electricity when not in use. Shutting down the TiVo units isn’t a reasonable option, so a remote powerstrip kill switch is out of the question. But devices like the Roku and Xbox 360 only need power when the television is on, making Smart Strip-like adapters appealing. These solutions cut power to peripheral devices when the primary device (television, in this case) is off. In the meantime, I’m taking a page out of Brian Lam’s book… Since the Xbox probably won’t see much playing time until the next Call of Duty arrives and I’m still waiting for mainstream blockbuster content from Netflix (Roku), both these devices have been unplugged (along with the shredder). At the same time, it’s worth keeping this all in perspective - my electric bill jumped by over $90 once the outside temps passed 85, while the TiVo Series3 is responsible for only about $2.25/month.


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