A new study carried out by the Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC), an American environmental group, has found that both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consume between two and three times as much energy as the previous generation of consoles.
Nintendo’s Wii U is the exception, with the latter using less electricity than its predecessor, the Wii.
Consoles to use more energy than Houston
According to the report, the new generation of consoles is set to consume the same amount of electricity per year, in the USA, as all of the households in Houston, Texas. The video game systems will cost approximately $1bn (about £600m) to run, every 12 months.
A major reason behind the increase in electricity consumption is the amount of electricity the consoles use when in ‘stand-by’ mode. In fact, the NRDC states that the new generation of consoles will use more energy playing videos and in stand-by mode, than actually playing games.
Kinect and always on USB ports
Using Microsoft’s motion and voice sensing Kinect device, Xbox One users can turn on their systems by saying “Xbox on”, however, this functionality greatly increases the energy consumed by the console as it is always on and ‘listening’ for commands. This functionality will cost the USA $400 million every year in electricity bills.
Sony’s PlayStation 4, on the other hand, comes under criticism for having its USB ports always powered on. This means that you can charge controllers from the ports when the machine is off, but wastes significant amounts of electricity.
In stark contrast, Nintendo’s Wii U uses between half and a third of the electricity of its rival consoles when in use and almost no power when turned off.
‘Leverage design best practices to reduce console energy consumption’
In its report, the NRDC calls on manufacturers Microsoft and Sony to implement the latest technology to diminish the amount of energy used by their products.
“Game console manufacturers should leverage design best practices to reduce console energy consumption as soon as possible, before too many units of the current models are sold and lock in high energy consumption for their owners for the next five years.”
The environmental group also suggests reducing the power consumed by consoles in stand-by mode and allowing users to chose what functionalities they want to be always on.