Cable Boxes- Second Biggest User of Your Household Electricity

A recent article from the LA Times points out that of the appliances that utilize energy in a consumer’s home, the second biggest user is the cable box. Second only to air condition units, cable boxes/DVR’s account for as much as 500 watts of energy a day. Much of this is due to the fact that most, if not all, consumers leave their cable box on at all times of the day.  The article reports:

 The seemingly innocuous appliances — all 224 million of them across the nation — together consume as much electricity as produced by four giant nuclear reactors, running around the clock. They have become the biggest single energy user in many homes, apart from air conditioning.

Cheryl Williamsen, a Los Alamitos architect, has three of the boxes leased from her cable provider in her home, but she had no idea how much power they consumed until recently, when she saw a rating on the back for as much as 500 watts — about the same as a washing machine.

A set-top cable box with a digital recorder can consume as much as 35 watts of power, costing about $8 a month for a typical Southern California consumer. The devices use nearly as much power turned off as they do when they are turned on.

The article goes on to point out that the energy-efficiency, or lack thereof, of cable boxes has sparked a debate between the creators of these cable boxes and advocates of energy conservation. While this could lead to changes in the energy-efficiency of these technologies in the future, there is currently little being done to change the energy efficiency of these technologies. This means that consumers have little ability to control, beyond unplugging their cable box when it’s not in use, how much energy these devices utilize on a daily basis.

Read More- “Cable TV boxes become 2nd biggest energy users in many homes” (Ralph Vartabedian, Los Angeles Times)

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A rising senior at Colgate University, John is currently working as a research fellow with Consumers' Research.

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