Last year the Natural Resources Defense Council posted a study examining the power usage of the latest generation of consoles, namely the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Wii U. According to the NRDC, while some changes have been made these changes don’t go far enough – especially in the case of the Xbox One and its Instant-On standby mode which it estimates are setting back consumers in the United States up to $250 million annually in energy costs.
The study, released in May 2014, initially found that the three consoles consumed between 10-11 billion kWh which amounts to around $1 billion in annual electricity bills. While both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consumed two to three times more energy than the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles, nearly half of the power used by the Xbox One comes from its Instant-On standby mode which allows users to use the “Xbox On” command to turn on the console, as well as switches the console on to download games and updates without user interaction. That being said, the PlayStation 4 also consumes roughly 32% of it’s energy while in standby mode.
Some changes have been made to these systems since the report came out, however Noah Horowitz from the NRDC mentions that Microsoft hasn’t gone far enough with the Xbox One.
Although Microsoft reduced the power drain from its “Instant On” mode from 18 watts to 12.5 watts, the mode is still the default when it comes out of the box and the user is not even given the option to disable it during the initial setup. Users must go deep into the menus to do that, which few are likely to do.
The main issue the NRDC has with the Xbox One and its default Instant-On power mode is that it takes a bit of digging for North American users to change it, while European users are given the option to disable it during the initial setup.
But Xbox Ones purchased in Europe arrive with the power-wasting “Instant On” deactivated by default, and present gamers with the choice of turning on this optional feature during initial setup if they really want to. That is a much more rational and environmentally responsible approach, and one that Microsoft should adopt worldwide.
If you’re currently using the Instant On feature, you can disable it by going to your Home Screen on the Xbox One, then pressing the menu button on your controller, select Settings, then Power and Startup, and from there you can switch over to the Energy-saving power mode.
While standby modes offer convenience to users and gamers, they may not be so convenient when it comes to your power bill and the environment. The study also went on to indicate that both shouldn’t be used to stream media and can use up to 45 times more energy than an Apple TV device, Chromecast, or dedicated Blu-ray player.
Let us know what you think of the study and comments by the NRDC in the comments below, or on Google+, Twitter, or Facebook.