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Your cable box could use more energy than your fridge!

27 June 2011

Those little boxes that usher cable signals and digital recording capacity into televisions have become the single largest electricity drain in many American homes, with some typical home entertainment configurations eating more power than a new refrigerator and even some central air-conditioning systems.

I was shocked to read this article in the New York Times about set-top cable boxes – it turns out that these ubiquitous devices are becoming the biggest energy hogs in American homes.  Since they use the same amount of energy in active of idle modes – whether you’re watching a show or not – last year set-top boxes in America alone consumed approximately 27 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, or the equivalent annual output of NINE coal-fired power plants!

The bad news?  It’s not practical to power down set-top boxes at night, since it can take hours for them to reboot.   The good news?  The Environmental Protection Agency has Energy Star standards for these set-top boxes and plans to tighten them significantly by 2013, so the newer generation of cable boxes will be more efficient.  In the meantime, you can reduce costs by placing the rest of your entertainment center on a power strip and turning it off when not in use!
:: National Resource Defense Council (PDF), New York Times

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