US pressure group Natural Resources Defense Council has urged both Sony and Microsoft to reduce the amount of power their consoles use in stand by.
It says that between them America’s Xbox Ones, PS4s and Wii Us will in the next year use as much electricity as the US’s fourth largest city, Housten, costing owners over $1bn in the process.
PS4 and Xbox One consume two-to-three times as much power as PS3 and 360, although Wii U has reduced the power needs seen in its predecessor the Wii.
Most of this power will be consumed when the devices are in standby and not when they are playing games, NRDC adds. Xbox One is a particular offender as it is designed to be powered on and active when users are watching TV, too, although when on it draws less power than PS4.
Microsoft and Sony have both been urged to release patches that tweak their machines’ power demands when in standby. It also wants Microsoft to “allow users to opt out of ‘Instant On’ and voice-command features in Xbox One's out-of-the-box setup menu, so they use this high-energy-consumptive mode only if they choose to.”
Both devices also use 30-45 times more power to stream video than dedicated video streaming equipment such as Apple TV and Chromecast.
“Gamers shouldn’t be locked into higher electric bills for the lifetime of their consoles just because manufacturers haven’t optimized the performance of their products,” NRDC director of high-tech energy efficiency Pierre Delforge said.
“This wastes energy and money, and causes unnecessary pollution from power plants.
“But if Microsoft and Sony follow NRDC’s recommendations, they could cut the new consoles’ electricity use by one-fourth beyond current projections through software and hardware optimizations, saving US consumers $250 million on their annual utility bills and enough energy to power all the households in San Jose, America’s 10th-largest city.”