TV DVR units said to waste $2 billion in electricity each year


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DVR set-top boxes, even when not recording ‘The Vampire Diaries,’ suck out the same amount of energy annually as is produced by nine coal-burning power plants, according to a new report.

About 160 million digital video recorders and cable and other pay-TV boxes in the U.S. eat up 27 terawatt-hours of electricity a year and cost consumers about $3 billion, according to researchers from the Natural Resources Defense Council.


Inactive boxes that aren’t recording or playing back shows account for about $2 billion of that cost, the study found. Hitting the off button only dims the box’s clock or display, leaving it to continue consuming nearly the same amount of power.

With some form of pay-TV box in 80% of U.S. homes, the technology eats up as much electricity each year as all the homes in Maryland, researchers said. Newer HD-DVR boxes use 275 kilowatt-hours annually, compared with the 17 kilowatt-hours required by a compact fluorescent light bulb. Each box uses more energy than an average new flat-screen television.

In Europe, variations on the technology have emerged that can shift into low power mode when not in use. But until the boxes show up in the U.S., researchers suggest consumers look into alternatives rated Energy Star 4.0 or higher.


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-- Tiffany Hsu

PHOTO: Bob Poniatowski, TiVo product marketer, demonstrates new uses of TiVo connected with a new DVR recorder at TiVo’s offices in Alviso, Calif. Credit: Eric Risberg/Associated Press