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Cable Boxes Continue to Be a Giant Energy Hog
by Karl Bode 03:08PM Tuesday Jul 01 2014 Tipped by newview See Profile
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.

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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.

62 comments .. click to read

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But When ? ?
Irving, TX

2 recommendations

reply to IowaCowboy

Re: Refuse older equipment

said by IowaCowboy:

Government seems to have cracked down on every other energy hog; bans on incandescent light bulbs, ceiling fans now have to have the small base light bulbs, toilets can't use more than 1.6 gallons per flush, etc.

How about requiring cablecos to mothball obsolete cable boxes.

If you pressure the cable cos to change like that, then they will forced to raise everyone's cable bill by $1 or $2, to pay for their new lobbyist fees to defeat said rule changes....


2 recommendations

reply to IPPlanMan

Re: Apple TV power consumption....

Better question: if you replaced your STB with a apple tv how long would it take to break even?

Assuming 16 W for the cable box 24/7 (which is WAY low looking at this thread) and 1.07 W for the apple we get:

cable box:
16 W * 24 hours/day * 365 days/yr = 140160 Wh or 140.160 kWh per year
140.16 kWh * $0.154/kWh (my current electric rate) = $21.58464/year

1.07 W * 24 hours/day * 365 days/yr = 9373.2 Wh or 9.3732 kWh per year
9.3732 kWh * $0.154/kWh (my current electric rate) = $1.4434728/year

$21.58 - $1.44 = $20.14/yr savings
$99/$20.14 = 4.915590864 years to break even

However, if you're using an apple tv you're probably cut the cord which means saving an additional $100/mo making the break even point less then 1 month :lol:



Hazelwood, MO

3 recommendations

reply to battleop

Re: I wonder...

LOL, let's start to stir this pot and see if we can really get a conspiracy theory going on it.

Bethel, CT

2 recommendations

apples vs oranges

In the rebuttal blog post, comparisons are made for in-use power demands, not stand-by power demands.

But that aside...

When I had a cable box, I measured it sucking in 20 to 25 watts 24/7, regardless of whether or not I was using the set top box. I wonder how many people have more than one cable box?

For comparison, my laser printer uses about 500 watts while printing, but only 0.9 watts when it is not in use. Note that while it is not in use and consuming only 0.9 watts, the printer is listening on the network for a print job and wakes itself up to print on demand (first sheet out in less than 10 seconds).

There's no reason why a cable box could not cycle down to a similar less than 1 watt standby mode when the cable box is not in use.

united state

3 recommendations

Some things just explain themselves...

The deal the cable industry struck with the government

has absolutely no penalties for non-compliance.

When you allow the fox to guard the henhouse, what do you think is going to happen?