Your Set Top Box Uses More Energy than your Fridge


This is fairly surprising and I’m sure it varies depending on your cable company, but according to the NY Times, says that the power a set top box consumes is more than a refrigerator over the course of a year. I don’t blame consumers so much as I do the CE manufacturers behind the boxes, which the Times goes into a bit. But it’s always good to remind people…that an HTPC on Standby only consumes about 4 watts, and can automatically wake itself up to record and then go back to sleep. I’m biased though 🙂

These set-top boxes are energy hogs mostly because their drives, tuners and other components are generally running full tilt, or nearly so, 24 hours a day, even when not in active use. The recent study, by the Natural Resources Defense Council, concluded that the boxes consumed $3 billion in electricity per year in the United States — and that 66 percent of that power is wasted when no one is watching and shows are not being recorded. That is more power than the state of Maryland uses over 12 months.

  • Interesting. I have a very

    Interesting. I have a very low powered HTPC instead of a cable DVR but I do have a STB for use with the HD-PVR. Wonder if anyone has worked out a way to turn on/off the STB when the PC wakes or sleeps?

    • You could achieve this in

      You could achieve this in different ways. One way would be to purchase a power strip that has managed outlets based on the state of a master outlet. So if your HTPC is on, the other outlets in the strip would turn on.

      I’m not sure if the sleep state would work with these strips though.

  • This is one of the many

    This is one of the many reasons why I enjoy my Ceton tuner.


    My HTPC sleeps 90+% of the time.  When a show needs to record, my ceton tuner wakes up my HTPC, records the show, then goes back to sleep when idle again.


    Considering my HTPC takes about 3 seconds to wake up from sleep and uses ~3W while asleep and ~45W while active, there is no reason why a cable box couldn’t do the same.

  • great point irev, and i think

    great point irev, and i think that’s one of the reasons i’m grateful seeing an article from the Times about this–these CE devices being forced upon consumers without options should really be ashamed of themselves. There’s literally no reason that standby shouldn’t be an option, or at the very least consume less power.

    • There is a reason why

      There is a reason why provider STBs are not efficient in their use of power. MSOs don’t foot the utility bill and the lion’s share of consumers are blissfully ignorant or don’t care.

  • Somehow I feel like I should

    Somehow I feel like I should be using this as justification to get a new fridge…
    I haven’t used a STB in years, not since MCE2005, but I’ve forwarded this to a few friends/family to try and push them over the edge to a Media Center system.

  • Got to thinking about this

    Got to thinking about this and, since I already us IR Server Suite, I may be able to rig up a batch file to do it on system resume.

    Ceton is a good option but I’ll have to wait on affording that for now 🙂

    • That would be an easy way to

      That would be an easy way to put the box into standby as well. I’ve got a couple of SA 4250 HD receivers right now for some testing. I’ll measure the power usage when on and when in standby for the benefit of this thread.

      • Mine is an SA 4250 HD as well

        Mine is an SA 4250 HD as well so I look forward to seeing your numbers.

        • The SA 4250 STB consumes 20

          The SA 4250 STB consumes 20 watts when decoding HD and 19 watts in standby. I’m not sure that extra watt is really worth your trouble. Ideally, you could turn off your STB using a switching outlet and have it fire up the STB at least 5 minutes prior to recording because it takes a while to boot.

          This seems to mesh with the figure NY Times published. On a yearly 24/7 basis, 20W will be 175 kWH and they published 171.

          Maybe someone with an HD DVR can measure what it draws and we can see how closely it matched the NY Times published number.

    • This is the type of switching

      This is the type of switching power strip I was referring to. I was perusing the manual and it appears that you can adjust the sensitivity of what is considered on and off for the PC in the master control outlet. You could use this to turn off your STB when the PC goes to sleep and save those extra watts!

      Also could be useful for those with tuning adapters as well. They aren’t much better than a STB with regards to power usage.

  • Thanks for checking. You’re

    Thanks for checking. You’re right, not sure that 1W is worth the effort but I may do it just for the challenge.