Set top boxes can use more power than a refrigator, consume power non-stop

One of my biggest complaints about electronics is the huge waste of power when we’re not using them. Set top boxes may be the kings of phantom power:

One high-definition DVR and one high-definition cable box use an average of 446 kilowatt hours a year, about 10 percent more than a 21-cubic-foot energy-efficient refrigerator, a recent study found.

These set-top boxes are energy hogs mostly because their drives, tuners and other components are generally running full tilt, or nearly so, 24 hours a day, even when not in active use. The recent study, by the Natural Resources Defense Council, concluded that the boxes consumed $3 billion in electricity per year in the United States — and that 66 percent of that power is wasted when no one is watching and shows are not being recorded. That is more power than the state of Maryland uses over 12 months.

I have my TV, Xbox 360, Blu Ray player, Apple TV, Wii and receiver hooked up to a power strip that I turn off when I’m not in use. This helps me save a lot of money every month on my electricity bills. I do not have a cable set top box, because I find cable too expensive for what it gives me and too fixated on serving me content on their schedule.

A simple $10 power strip is helping to save me hundreds of dollars a year, minimum (you can get fancier ones that turn devices off automatically and others with remotes). While this simple solution does help save a lot of electricity, these set top boxes and other electronics should still be more energy efficient out of the box. The Apple TV, for instance, uses the same parts in the iPhone 4, which allows it to consume very little power.