The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) recently tested both Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s PlayStation 4 and found that both consoles consume close to three times more energy than their predecessors.
Better graphics and multiple new features mean the consoles could end up costing the USA between 10 and 11 billion kilowatt hours of electricity every year, once they replace the previous generation’s 100m+ units.
According to the GfK Chart-track, in the UK Microsoft’s Xbox One sold 364,000 units in the UK this Christmas and Sony’s PlayStation 4 shifted 530,000 units.
Consoles could use more electricity than Houston every year
Speaking on the consumption figures, the NRDC said: “Even if these new video game consoles became 25% more energy efficient on average over time – which we believe is possible – they would still use between 10 and 11 billion kilowatt hours of electricity annually once the new consoles have replaced the more than 100 million units currently in use.
“This translates to four large power plants and over $1bn in annual electricity bills. To put this into further perspective, video game consoles in the United States are projected to use more electricity annually than all the households in Houston, America’s fourth-largest city.”
Which of the two consoles consumes more energy?
Video game consoles are becoming increasingly complicated pieces of equipment and the days of simply switching them off when not in use are long gone. Both consoles now function in a number of modes, such as Connected Standby, Blu-ray and game play. This makes it slightly more complicated to work out which console uses the most energy.
Although the PS4 uses more electricity than its rival in every mode but one, research by the NRDC suggests that over the course of one year, the Xbox One will consume the most energy. This is because the Connected Standby mode, where the Xbox One uses 18W compared to the PS4’s 8.8W, is the one in which the consoles are likely to spend the most time.
Based on active use (playing games, watching movies and TV) of 2.9 hours per day for PS4, and 4.0 hours per day for Xbox One (assuming 30% of people use Xbox One’s TV integration mode)
Image by the Natural Resources Defense Council
Room for improvement
The report does, however, suggest that both Microsoft and Sony could reduce their consoles’ energy consumption by implementing a number of changes.
Sony is encouraged to get its active modes’ energy consumption in line with those of Microsoft’s machine. For the Xbox One the Connected Standby mode is the biggest concern. This mode means the console is never actually turned off and due to its voice recognition capabilities is always “listening” for its user to issue a command. Surely this is unnecessary at certain times of the day and particularly during the night.
In Sony and Microsoft’s defence, consoles often improve their energy consumption levels throughout their lifecycle. The first version of the PlayStation 3, for example, consumed an estimated £40 worth of electricity per year, which was cut to about half that amount in future itinerations (according to Sust-it).