Your DVR Wastes More Energy Than Your Refrigerator

The biggest waster of energy in your home isn’t your fridge, central air conditioning system, or even your LCD television.

According to a new study from the Natural Resources Defense Council, DVRs and digital cable boxes consume $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.

Just to put in in perspective, experts say that’s more power than the state of Maryland uses over 12 months.

Eye-opening Stats from the NRDC:

  • There are approximately 160 million set-top boxes installed in U.S. homes. Almost all of these boxes are owned and installed by the service provider (e.g. Comcast, Time Warner, Cox Communications, DISH Network, DirecTV, Verizon and AT&T, etc)
  • Today’s set-top boxes operate at near full power even when the consumer is neither watching nor recording a show. As a nation, we spend $2 billion each year to power these boxes when they are not being actively used.
  • Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) are growing in popularity and frequently replace set-top boxes without recording capability. DVRs typically use around 40 percent more energy per year than their non-DVR counterparts.

The worst part about the energy-sucking nature of these digital devices is that it’s absolutely not necessary.

Similar products in Europe have the ability to automatically go into standby mode when not in use, cutting power drawn by half. They can also go into an optional “deep sleep,” which can reduce energy consumption by about 95 percent compared with when the machine is active (NY Times).

Even though these European companies are willing to ship their products to American television providers, the U.S. companies often refuse because they’re worried that the low-energy boxes will result in service interruptions. American consumers, they say, will not tolerate having to wait a few minutes for their sleeping cable box to boot up.

At this point the best way to eliminate the vampire energy use of DVRs, cable boxes, and video game consoles,  is to make sure they are plugged into an energy-saving smart power strip.

Related Reading:

How To Vanquish Costly Energy Vampires From Your Home

Forget The Prius! Retrofitting Old Homes Saves More Energy

Should We Give Up Air Conditioning To Combat Climate Change?

via NY Times

Image Credit: uberculture

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Mark Bill
Past Member 9 months ago

This blog is giving the clear idea of everything described here. It’s genuinely amazing post.

Howard C.
.3 years ago

I live in Europe (England) where I have two DVR devices, both automatically go into 'sleep' mode when not being used; the time spent 'waking them up again' is only a few seconds, the energy that waiting for such a short time saves makes it well worth it. If Care2 members in the US agree then if you tell retailers that this is a feature that you want hopefully they will listen.

Harsha Vardhana R

Thanks for the spread of awareness

Charli Stubbs
Charlotte S.3 years ago

We have all our electrical appliances plugged into power strips that we turn off when we're not using them. Great money saver

Mark S.
Mark S.3 years ago

I got rid of my DVR because of the extra monthly cost from Directv. But all satellite receivers in the U.S. (to my knowledge) use power whether it's on or not. (you can tell because it still puts out heat, even when turned off!!) Unplugging or using a power strip with an off-on switch are the only options when not watching TV.

Don F.
Don F.3 years ago

Should not be anything new, but here it is: To save the energy your cable box eats at night or during the day when you aren't home, simply unplug the power cord from in back of the box, or at the outlet end, whichever is easier. When you are ready to watch TV, just plug it in and wait a few minutes for the box to re-boot. If you can't wait, just learn to anticipate and plug the box in when you arrive home or get up in the morning. Some may want to install a simple timer as you would to turn lights on and off when you aren't home.

jessica w.
jessica w.4 years ago

Thank you.

Sonny Honrado
Sonny Honrado4 years ago

Thanks. Mine is always set on off.

jane richmond
jane richmond4 years ago


Ana R4 years ago

Thanks for the article!