Your cable box is a vampire, but it’s about to get more efficient


When you turn off your cable box, you may think it isn’t using any power. In fact, every electronic device uses some electricity as long as it’s plugged in. These energy suckers are known as “vampires” and they account for a tremendous amount of energy waste in the U.S.: over 100 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity every year, costing Americans more than $11 billion.

Wasted energy means more than just wasted money when you pay your electric bill. All too often, it also means that the coal-burning plant where your electricity comes from is belching more greenhouse gases and particulate pollution into the air.

A cable box uses far more electricity than your average appliance, because it’s never really off. According to a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council, “In 2010, set-top boxes in the United States consumed approximately 27 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, which is equivalent to the annual output of nine average (500 MW) coal-fired power plants. The electricity required to operate all U.S. boxes is equal to the annual household electricity consumption of the entire state of Maryland, results in 16 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and costs households more than $3 billion each year.”

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