US consoles use enough energy to power San Diego

Consoles use a lot of power, we’ve known that much for a while, and I’m ashamed to say that I’ve used my PS3 to warm myself up on more than one cold English winter night. A report (PDF) from the National Resources Defense Council has found that annually the United States expends 16 billion kilowatts of energy on powering its consoles – that’s enough to power the city of San Diego.

Recommending that gamers should switch off the console between uses in order to save money on electricity bills (who’d have thunk it?), the report also found that it is the owners of the PlayStation 3 (before power management was tacked onto a firmware update in 2007) who splash out the most on powering their consoles. Those who don’t turn off the machine between playing can expect to pay an average of $160 a year (though that drops to a slightly less bone crunching $137 with power management on).

The cheapest console to run is, surprise surprise, the Nintendo Wii – which will cost even the most careless user but $10 a year (though if you turn it off between use then that could be cut down to a meager $3).

The report makes a number of recommendations for both consumers and manufacturers on how to make their machines as energy efficient as possible. It’s good to see the NRDC giving some real, practical advice — rather than simply bashing the technology industry for its supposed wastefulness in the manner of other environmental organizations.