Friday, July 1, 2011

Ask Ida

Can I power down my cable box?


Dear Ida B. Green,

Does my cable box ever go into sleep mode?

Signed,

Viewer

Dear Viewer,

U.S. set-top boxes are energy hogs mostly because their components are running full tilt, or nearly so, 24/7. One high-definition DVR and one high-definition cable box use an average of 446 KWH each year, about 10 percent more than a 21-cubic-foot energy-efficient refrigerator.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, in 2010:

- About 160 million U.S. set-top boxes consumed about 27 billion KWH of electricity and produced 16 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the annual output of nine average coal-fired power plants.

- Nationally, we spent $3 billion to power these boxes ($2 billion when not being actively used) and DVRs use about 40 percent more.

When the demand for improved efficiency in these electronics is heard by producers and cable companies, they can adopt the models already found in most European systems. Call your cable company to let it know your need and find out if your system is set up so that you can turn off the power to your box without disrupting the signal. If so, use a power strip to turn it off and on. For others, and DVR users, just tell your cable company that you'd like a more energy-efficient system. They're not going to change if they're not asked (and asked by a lot of people).

Keep it Green,

Ida

—Elizabeth Jeffrey




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