Kids home playing video games this summer? Check out these game console savings tips

Most kids have been on summer break for a few weeks now. The initial excitement of pools and playgrounds may be dwindling and the reality of filling long summer days is setting in.

As temperatures continue to rise, some kids may be cooling down and filling a few of those out-of-school hours with video games. If that’s the case in your house, now is the perfect time to make sure those game consoles aren’t costing you too much on your energy bill.

According to Energy Star, today’s game consoles can consume as much energy as all the homes in the city of Houston — the equivalent of the electricity delivered by four power plants.

Thankfully, Energy Star also offers these tips to reduce your game console’s energy use and save some money.

  • Activate power-saving settings: Xbox One comes set up to listen for the “Xbox On” command to turn on and allow other devices to access it through the network. By configuring the “Energy-saving” Power Mode,” you can disable such features and drop the Xbox One’s standby power use by 98 percent! The Play Station 4, with software updates, enters a low power “Rest” mode after one hour of inactivity — which can be reduced to save even more. Users can also enable time limits for USB power charging when the PS4 is in “Rest” mode. The Wii U’s power consumption is already optimized in all non-gaming modes, consuming less than half a watt when your console is standing by. 
  • Turn off the controllers: The PS4 includes a useful feature that allows the controllers to turn themselves off when not in use. You can choose to turn off your controllers automatically after 10, 30, or 60 minutes, depending on your gameplay habits. 
  • Dis-Kinect When You Aren’t Using It: Xbox’s Kinect accessory can instantly recognize your body movements. This feature can use up to 14 watts when the game console is in use. So if you don’t use Kinect often, consider disconnecting it. 
  • Keep up on your updates:  With Sony’s System Software version 2.0 update, the PS4 now powers down automatically, and the USB ports enter a much lower power state after connected controllers are fully charged, dropping the power consumption by more than 65 percent. 
  • Don’t let your game console come between you and your cable: For the best efficiency choice, plug your set-top box cable directly into the first HDMI port on your TV, and connect the Xbox to a secondary HDMI port on your TV. Plugging your set-top box into your Xbox requires the Xbox to consume power even when you are not gaming — almost as much power as your TV. 
  • Stream content smartly: Streaming through a game console uses up to 10 times more energy than streaming on a laptop or tablet. Consider using another kind of device to stream — like a Blu-ray player, set-top box, or smart TV that has earned the EPA’s Energy Star.

Check out this article for step-by-step instructions — including screen shots — to configure your console.

Information from Black Hills Energy's Keeping Energy Affordable blog
June 2017