Consoles, like all other hardware with a bunch of chips and processors in them, consume electricity. Usually, the more powerful the hardware, the more juice it takes to run. And while game consoles, PCs, and computer hardware have been getting more and more energy efficient over the past years, they still consume a lot.
The The Natural Resources Defense Council, a non-profit environmental advocacy group, who call themselves “The Earth’s Best Defense”, did a study recently about the electricity consumption of video game consoles. And it’s not looking good. Unless you’re Nintendo.
The NRDC found that the new generation of consoles from Sony and Microsoft (PS4 and Xbox One), actually consume quite a bit more than their last-generation editions. The Xbox One is the most power hungry by far, which at peak, can consume almost 300 kWh/year. By comparison, the Wii U is at just 37 kWh/year.
In fact, the Wii U is not only the most power efficient next gen console by far, it’s also the only console that consumes less than its predecessor. The original Wii was measured at 40, while the Wii U is slightly lower, at 37 kWh/year.
The Xbox One is especially power hungry. It draws 15W continuously for its Kinect monstrosity to be on and wait for the user to say “Xbox On”, even during the night or when no one’s home. This represents $400 million in annual electricity bills in the US, according to NRDC’s estimates.
The numbers are estimates based on console usage and power draw. According to NRDC, video game consoles in America consume as much electricity in a year as the city of Houston. Which is not a small city by any measure. The electricity cost to run all of the consoles every year? $1 billion.
You can check out a graph below of how the Wii U stacks up against the competition. Of course, the Wii U isn’t nearly as powerful as the other consoles, and Nintendo specifically designed and under-clocked the hardware to fit the power envelope of the system.