Today is Earth Day, and, accordingly, I've seen a few sites link to 1Up.com's "Gaming Green" article. Being a naive liberal, the environment is fairly high on my list of concerns, but I can appreciate that some well-meaning people sincerely believe that things like global warming are a plot dreamed up by Al Gore in order to enslave God-fearing Americans and create a wacked-out leftist dystopia. So let's sidestep the political considerations for a minute, and see if applying some of these lessons can help you in your daily life without forcing you to help turn America into a worker's paradise.
You've probably noticed that most electronics these days are always on. In fact, that's touted as a feature in things like the Wii, which can download updates from the web even when in standby mode. In my little corner of the office, where I do all my gaming, I've got the following electronics sucking juice constantly:
- PlayStation 3
Even though each one draws little power by itself, multiplying all of them by 24 hours a day adds up. Then consider the living room, where the TV, DirecTV receiver, and DVD player are all doing the same thing. Add the cell phone, iPod, and laptop chargers that all pull down their own voltage, and suddenly you see how much power we're using for no real reason.
Last summer, we made the decision only to plug in our chargers when we needed them, and to connect the majority of our electronics to power strips. Now, when I'm not using the PS3 or the Wii, I cut the power to both, as well as my TV. When we're not watching anything in the living room, we turn that power strip off. All it took was the negligible initial investment in the power strips, and the presence of mind to switch them off when we leave the room. It's not hard.
The result has been a reduction of as much as $30 to our monthly electric bill. That's $360 a year! In gaming terms, the energy savings could buy me six games. Or an Xbox 360 Pro. Or more than seven years of Xbox Live.
I only wish I'd started doing this sooner, and not just for the financial and environmental benefits. If you remember, the Wii had problems overheating when left in Connect24 mode for too long. Because I had it running in standby mode for several months at a stretch, I now get graphical artifacting. Had I been cutting the power completely during that time, it would still be working perfectly.
So if you don't want to do it for the environment, or if you're tempted to spite Al Gore and his nanny-state cohort, then do it for me.
Wait, that's not right. Do it for your wallet.