Your Idle Gaming Consoles Could Be Adding to Your Energy Bill

Your Idle Gaming Consoles Could Be Adding to Your Energy Bill
Image: istock/Girts Ragelis
At Lifehacker, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW - prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.

After an afternoon or evening of gaming, most of us will usually just flip our Xbox Series X or PS5 to standby mode instead of turning it off. What you might not realise is that while you aren’t using your gaming consoles, they could be consuming as much as 25 times the minimum energy they need, even in standby mode.

This idle power drain could be silently inflating your energy bills and isn’t exactly environmentally friendly either. The environmental advocacy group Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC) has said that Xbox owners, in particular, could be collectively paying an extra $US500 ($670) million in energy bills due to its default power mode settings.

To be fair to Microsoft and Sony, the Xbox Series X/S and the PS5 are more power-efficient when you’re streaming movies or performing less intensive tasks as compared to older consoles. However, it’s best to review your power settings on these consoles to avoid draining your wallet and wasting energy.

Here’s a look at how much power your gaming consoles consume, and what you can do to reduce energy bills.

How to reduce power consumption on the Xbox Series X/S

The Xbox Series X/S ships with “Instant On” power mode enabled in most regions. This allows the console to let you stream games to your smartphone, and update and install games when the console is in standby mode. However, the Xbox Series X/S consumes 10-13W of energy when it’s in Instant On mode — versus 0.4-0.5W when you enable the Energy Saving power mode.

If you haven’t already purchased the console, and power-saving is an important factor, then the Series S has an advantage. Even when you’re playing games, the Series S (74W) draws half as much power as the Series X (153W), according to Microsoft. Of course, no one buys a console solely with power savings in mind, and there are other factors to consider.

No matter which version of Microsoft’s latest gaming consoles you have, a simple tweak in power settings will go a long way toward helping you save money. Go to Settings on your Xbox and navigate to General > Power mode & startup.

xbox ps5 energy bill
Energy-saving power mode on an Xbox Series X. (Screenshot: Pranay Parab)

Under Power mode, select Energy-saving to ensure that your console isn’t consuming more energy than it needs to.

xbox ps5 energy bill
Energy-saving power mode on an Xbox Series X. (Screenshot: Pranay Parab)

This settings page also lets you choose how long you want to wait before the Xbox turns itself off. The minimum is after 1 hour of inactivity while gaming and two hours of inactivity when you’re streaming music or movies.

Of course, you can go to “Power mode & startup” in Settings and select Full Shutdown to turn off your Xbox completely. Once you’ve done that, you can unplug it to be absolutely sure that it’s not wasting electricity.

How to reduce power consumption on PS4 and PS5

ps5 playstation 5 australia
Getty Images

On the PS5, you can reduce the console’s energy consumption by opening Settings and heading over to System > Power Saving. Similarly, on the PlayStation 4, these options can be found by going to Settings > Power Save Settings.

Both the PS4 and PS5 have a menu called Set Time Until PS5 (or PS4) Enters Rest Mode. By default, this is set to put your console in rest mode after one hour of inactivity while gaming, and four hours of inactivity when you’re streaming movies. You can reduce the time to lower power consumption.

Both Sony consoles also have an option called Features Available in Rest Mode. Here you can select if you want to allow the console to charge your controllers using the USB ports when you’ve kept the PS5 in rest mode. You can also decide whether you want the console to be able to connect to the internet when it’s in rest mode. If you disable internet access, it won’t be able to download games or updates when not in use.

The PS5 allows you to Set Time Until PlayStation Controllers Turn Off. You can quickly select how long you want to wait before the DualSense controller is turned off. Reducing the time here will prolong your controller’s battery life.

Finally, you can shut down the PS5 by pressing the PS button on the controller once, and selecting Power > Turn Off PS5. The corresponding option on a PS4 can be accessed by pressing and holding the PS button on the controller and then selecting Turn Off PS4. That will initiate a full shut down, unlike Rest Mode, which puts the console in a low-power state that still draws a small amount of electricity.

Another way to save on electricity costs is to make sure you’re not overpaying with your current provider. The best way to do this is to compare your current costs to other providers in your area. We’ve partnered with a powerful comparison tool called eConnex to help make this process fast and easy. You can even use your most current bill details to get an accurate comparison. Enter your postcode in the box below to get started.

Where are you located?

Currently available in ddd, ACT, SA, VIC, parts of QLD, TAS & WA (only Gas). Not available in Ergon Area (QLD), NT and embedded networks or non-quotable meters.

Log in to comment on this story!