Digital video recorders (DVRs), cable and other pay-TV boxes waste $2 billion dollars of electricity a year because they are not capable of powering down when not in use, according to a new study released by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
With more than 80 percent of U.S. homes subscribing to some form of pay-television service, there are approximately 160 million DVRs and cable boxes – also called set-top boxes – nationwide, the NRDC says.
The NRDC’s report, Reducing the National Energy Consumption of Set-Top Boxes, finds that because these devices run on full power even when the consumer is neither watching nor recording a show, they waste the equivalent annual energy output of six coal-burning power plants.
Turning the device off only dims the display and does not significantly reduce the amount of power being drawn, the study reports.
The NRDC calls for better design of set-top boxes, where the device automatically powers down when not in use – a capability beginning to appear in some boxes used in Europe. In the mean time, the NRDC says that consumers can request a set-top box compliant with Energy Star, Version 4.0, requirements from their cable or satellite provider.
“Set-top boxes are the ultimate home energy vampires, silently sucking significant amounts of energy and money when nobody’s using them,” said NRDC Senior Scientist Noah Horowitz in a statement.
“We’ve improved the efficiency of all sorts of electronics – from TVs to video game consoles. It’s just as possible to improve the efficiency of our DVRs and other pay TV boxes. But they’re not going to build a better mousetrap unless we, the consumers, demand it.”