Save money on energy by unplugging your set-top box


I’ve got an easy way for you to save money this summer and beyond and it comes from unplugging an unlikely Dracula electronic in your home.

In many houses, the top energy hog (after your air conditioner) is likely your set-top box on top of your TV. These devices use massive power. DVRs in particular use 40% more energy than their non-recording counterparts. In total, there are nearly 160 million TV set-top boxes from cable, satellite, phone or other providers in people’s homes across the country. They eat up power to the max because they’re continually updating the programming guide.

The bulk of the power consumed by set-top boxes is overwhelmingly being gobbled up when the TV is not being watched and programming is not being recorded, according to a new estimate from the Natural Resource Defense Council  (NRDC). That’s costing American households some $3 billion annually.

So what can you do? I have special power strips purchased from a warehouse club that overrides the sleep mode of any kind of electronics item to shut off the juice when the device goes idle for long enough. Each strip was $19 and I’ve probably already made that money back in what I’ve saved on energy.

If you’re going out of town, you can always just unplug your set-top box. The money you will save will be fantastic, even if you do have to wait several minutes for the set-top box to reboot when you plug it back in again on your return.

The NRDC has several other recommendations in its article, including getting manufacturers to use automatic lower power states (sleep mode) and suggesting that homeowners use a central DVR supplemented by client DVRs.

With the latter idea, you have one main DVR that records and then feeds the programming you want to other DVRs in the house when you want it. So you only need to leave a single DVR plugged in to capture the programming, instead of having up to 4 DVRs running at once as many people do in their homes.

Ultimately, the government may eventually set standards for energy-efficient set-top boxes since the industry seems unwilling to do so. But you can do something about it right now and it will save big dough!  

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