2 Weekly Eco-Challenge: Unplugging to Save

I recently read a report by the National Resource Defense Council about how cable boxes are a massive energy user even when turned off . When I say that they consume a lot of energy I mean that they use more energy than a fridge. Mind blowing right? A typical household set up is one PVR and one HD cable box which combined use 446 kWh/year of electricity. A 21 cubic foot Energy Star refrigerator uses 415 kWh/year.
When I heard this my first thought was that it shouldn't be a problem for us because we turn the cable box off when we are not using it. But it turns out that they still pull a lot of energy even when turned off. The only way to stop this is to unplug them or turn off the power bar they are plugged into.

Some more stats:
* In 2010, cable boxes consumed the same amount of power as the annual output of 9 coal fired plants.
* The energy required to run all the cable boxes in the US is equivalent to annual household consumption of the entire state of Maryland and resulted in 16 million metric tons of CO2 emissions.
* PVR's use 40% more power than the non-recording cable boxes.
* Nearly 2/3 of energy usage from cable boxes is when they are not in use.

Okay on to the challenge. This month we will be unplugging our cable boxes (we have 2) to determine the impact we can have on our electric bill. We do not have a PVR so our energy consumption is lower right out of the gate. The NRDC report shows that the average consumption of our HD box is 171 kWh/year.
I am really interested to see if this eco-challenge will have any impact on our bill.


  1. What?! This is madness. I'd be really interested to know what the outcome of your research is as our hydro bill can be quite high. And don't PVRs need to be plugged in in order to keep their recordings? Oh dear.

  2. PVR's do need to stay plugged in if you want to record. Hence the problem for so many houses. If you don't have a PVR though you could easily unplug it and save.