Several years ago studies began to indicate the the average cable box is one of the biggest gobblers of energy in the home
, and while the industry has promised to follow new rules set by the U.S. Energy Department
, it doesn't appear to be helping yet. The Los Angeles Times
notes that cable boxes remain the second biggest energy consumers in most homes, the nation's 224 million set top boxes consuming as much as 35 watts of power, costing about $8 a month for a typical Southern California consumer.
The thing is, as the paper notes, it really wouldn't take much work to integrate design improvements that dramatically reduce set top usage:
Energy experts say the boxes could be just as efficient as smartphones, laptop computers or other electronic devices that use a fraction of the power thanks to microprocessors and other technology that conserves electricity. Ideally, they say, these boxes could be put into a deep sleep mode when turned off, cutting consumption to a few watts. At that rate, a box could cost less than $1 a month for power, depending on how much it is used.
The deal the cable industry struck with the government late last year
is supposed to reduce cable box energy consumption 10% to 45% by 2017, though consumer groups have complained the voluntary deal doesn't go far enough and has absolutely no penalties for non-compliance.Update
: The cable industry's top lobbying organization has unsurprisingly issued a blog post
claiming the Times was engaged in a "deeply unfair portrayal of advances made under the Set-Top Box Energy Conservation Agreement." They also offered up their own energy consumption stats:
As a baseline, an average TV set top box consumes less than 12-kilowatt hours (KwH) of energy per month. Based on the average American household energy consumption of 903 KwH per month, a TV set top box is responsible for just 1.3 percent of a typical household’s energy use. Compare that to 46 percent for heating and cooling.