If you’ve turned on your TV recently, then you know that the content provider wars are almost as dramatic as the shows they broadcast! Traditional staples like cable and satellite are going up against new services like Hulu and Netflix. While it’s each provider’s job to talk up the unique benefits they offer, there is a hidden cost beyond the subscription price that I hadn’t considered until recently: the amount of energy each proprietary device requires to operate.
Beyond your actual TV, there’s always some form of additional hardware that you’ll need in order to watch the programming you’re paying for. I happen to subscribe to both cable and streaming services, so I decided to put my DVR and streaming consoles head-to-head in an energy match with my trusty Kill-A-Watt measurement tool.
The first contender was my IP streaming device. Built by a 3rd party manufacturer called Roku, this particular box centralizes all of my IP streaming content into an easy to navigate format. The device itself is only 1” by 3” by 3”—much smaller than a DVR or gaming console—and it also came with a tiny remote control.
On standby, the device pulled .06 amps.
When streaming or buffering content, it pulled .09 amps.
The next contender was my DVR console, issued by my cable company. I couldn’t locate a manufacturer name, but the device is roughly 3” by 9” by 12”. I suspected this device would probably use more energy due to an internal cooling fan I could hear blowing on the inside. It also features a back-lit clock and digital channel display.
On standby, the device pulled .46 amps.
When recording new content or playing saved programming, the device pulled .94 amps.
The results were more shocking than I’d thought. With two DVRs in my house, I realized that they draw nearly 1 amp collectively all day long, even when I’m not home! After an entire month, that’s really impacting my bill.
Take a look around your own house tonight and see what’s plugged into your entertainment center. If you’re like most people, you likely have multiple broadcast and gaming consoles. You can talk to your family about unplugging these electronics when not in use, or consider a smart power strip to help you manage the flow of power to hungry electronics!