Kids home playing video games this summer? Check out these game console savings tips

It’s been summer for a few weeks now. The initial excitement of pools and playgrounds may be dwindling and the reality of filling long summer days is setting in.

If you ...

Tagged: gaming, saving energy, summer

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Kids home playing video games this summer? Check out these game console savings tips

Young girl and her dad play video games

If you have kids, chances are they might be filling some of those out-of-school hours with video games. If that’s the case, then make sure your game consoles aren’t sucking more energy than they should.

Key Points

  • Game consoles use a lot of energy, even when you’re not using them.
  • Most systems have energy-saving modes.
  • Avoid using your game console to stream your favorite shows. Blu-ray players or smart TVs are much more efficient. 

It’s been summer for a few weeks now. The initial excitement of pools and playgrounds may be dwindling and the reality of filling long summer days is setting in.

If you have kids, chances are they might be filling some of those out-of-school hours with video games. If that’s the case, then make sure your game consoles aren’t sucking more energy than they should.

According to Energy Star, today’s game consoles can consume as much energy as all the homes in the city of Houston — the equivalent of the electricity delivered by four power plants.

Holy Super Mario Brothers, that’s a lot of energy.

Thankfully, Energy Star also offers these tips to reduce your game console’s energy use and save some money.

  • Activate power-saving settings: Xbox One comes set up to listen for the “Xbox On” command to turn on and allow other devices to access it through the network. By configuring the “Energy-saving” Power Mode, you can disable such features and drop the Xbox One’s standby power use by 98 percent! The Play Station 4, with software updates, enters a low power “Rest” mode after one hour of inactivity — which can be reduced to save even more. Users can also enable time limits for USB power charging when the PS4 is in “Rest” mode. The Wii U’s power consumption is already optimized in all non-gaming modes, consuming less than half a watt when your console is standing by. 
  • Turn off the controllers: The PS4 includes a useful feature that allows the controllers to turn themselves off when not in use. You can choose to turn off your controllers automatically after 10, 30, or 60 minutes, depending on your gameplay habits. 
  • Dis-Kinect When You Aren’t Using It: Xbox’s Kinect accessory can instantly recognize your body movements. This feature can use up to 14 watts when the game console is in use. So if you don’t use Kinect often, consider disconnecting it. 
  • Keep up on your updates: For example, with Sony’s System Software version 2.0 update, the PS4 now powers down automatically, and the USB ports enter a much lower power state after connected controllers are fully charged, dropping the power consumption by more than 65 percent. 
  • Don’t let your game console come between you and your cable: For the best efficiency choice, plug your set-top box cable directly into the first HDMI port on your TV, and connect the Xbox to a secondary HDMI port on your TV. Plugging your set-top box into your Xbox requires the Xbox to consume power even when you are not gaming — almost as much power as your TV. 
  • Stream content smartly: Streaming through a game console uses up to 10 times more energy than streaming on a laptop or tablet. Consider using another kind of device to stream — like a Blu-ray player, set-top box, or smart TV that has earned the EPA’s Energy Star.

Check out this article for step-by-step instructions — including screen shots — to configure your console.

And then turn the system off for a while and make the kids go outside.

Only 10 weeks until school is back in session.


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned a degree in political science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the governor’s office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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Banish the dust bunnies and save on your energy bill

Every spring, I get the bug to clean out the whole house.

But then I get half through my daughter’s pajama drawer, tear up at the thought that she’s outgrown all her ...

Tagged: spring cleaning, dust bunnies, saving energy

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Banish the dust bunnies and save on your energy bill

Bunny chills out in the dust.

Maybe this year I’ll be more successful with my spring cleaning if I keep in mind that some projects can also help us save money on our energy bill.

Key Points

  • Spring cleaning projects can help save energy.
  • Dirty fridge coils make the motor work harder.
  • Air leaks in your sliding doors, basement or crawl space make your house less energy efficient. 

Every spring, I get the bug to clean out the whole house.

But then I get half through my daughter’s pajama drawer, tear up at the thought that she’s outgrown all her baby things, and decide that all these items must be kept as precious mementos of her childhood.

That pair of pink footsie pajamas with the strawberry stains is an artifact and must be treasured, right?

Maybe this year I’ll be more successful with my spring cleaning if I keep in mind that some projects can also help us save money on our energy bill. 

Here’s how:

  • Clean the fridge — Refrigerators can use up to 14 percent of a household’s energy. But that fridge can run much more efficiently if it’s clean. Take a deep breath, roll the fridge away from the wall, and brace yourself for what’s hiding behind it (so that’s where the bouncy balls we cried for an hour about losing went!). Vacuum the coils. When things like dust, pet hair, and, say, organic cheddar bunny cracker crumbs, for instance, build up on the coils, the motor has to work harder and uses more electricity.While you’re at it, clean out the inside too. That expired bottle of ketchup and mystery jar of leftovers from Christmas might be blocking the airflow.
  • Check your sliding doors It’s an easy thing to overlook, but make sure to clean out the track of your sliding doors. If it’s dirty, it can ruin the door’s seal. Those gaps in the seal can let in hot air during the summer.
  • Hunt for spider webs — If you have spider webs in your basement or crawlspace, you probably have a draft nearby. If you find webs, hunt down the leak and seal them to help keep your home well insulated.
  • Dust your ceiling fans — While you’re up there, check to make sure your fan is set to go counterclockwise for the summer. In the winter, you want it to go clockwise to help push warm air down. In the summer, you need to change them back to have the opposite effect.

Good luck with the spring cleaning. I’m pretty sure I can get through this list without crying. Just don’t make me sort through June’s and Annie’s sock drawers. Tiny baby socks get me every time.


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned a degree in political science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the governor’s office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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Daylighting: It’s not a second job, but it can save you money

No, daylighting won’t get you in trouble with your boss. Unlike moonlighting, it’s not a second job or an “invite-all-your-friends-to-this-party-and-make-money-while-you-socialize” ...

Tagged: saving energy, windows, daylighting

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Daylighting: It’s not a second job, but it can save you money

Flat-faced cat looking longingly out the window

Using windows and skylights to let in natural light, especially now as we look forward to long summer evenings, is a smart way to save money without having to make drastic lifestyle changes.

Key Points

  • Strategically placed windows and skylights can help you save money and energy.
  • Maximizing the natural daylight can cut back on how often you need to turn on the lights.
  • South-facing windows are the best because they let in the most sunlight. 

No, daylighting won’t get you in trouble with your boss. Unlike moonlighting, it’s not a second job or an “invite-all-your-friends-to-this-party-and-make-money-while-you-socialize” pyramid kind of thing. It’s being smart about your home’s design to help save you money and energy.

Using windows and skylights to let in natural light, especially now as we look forward to long summer evenings, is a smart way to save money without having to make drastic lifestyle changes.

Here are some tips from the Department of Energy to help make your windows work for you:

  • The best choice: south-facing windows — Windows facing south allow most winter sunlight into the home but little direct sun during the summer, especially when properly shaded.
  • An OK choice: north-facing windows — Windows facing the north admit relatively even, natural light, producing little glare and almost no unwanted summer heat gain.
  • Last choice: east- and west-facing windows — Windows facing these directions provide good daylight penetration in the morning and evening, respectively, but may cause glare, admit a lot of heat during the summer when it is usually not wanted, and contribute little to solar heating during the winter.

The only drawback, according highly esteemed energy experts, to having lots of natural light in your home is that it might make it harder to put your kids to bed at 7:30 p.m. while it’s still light outside, cutting back on your “Homeland” binge time.


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned a degree in political science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the governor’s office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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Paint so cool it could save you 50% on your energy bill

What if saving energy was as easy as applying a coat of paint?

A new invention on display at the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy conference in Washington, ...

Tagged: paint, saving energy, energy technology

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Paint so cool it could save you 50% on your energy bill

Man applying paint to roof

Xerox PARC created a magical paint that can self-cool whatever it’s painted on.

Key Points

  • A new paint can self-cool whatever it’s painted on.
  • During tests, it was able to keep building interiors nearly 54 degrees cooler than buildings without the paint.
  • This cool paint should be on the market soon. 

What if saving energy was as easy as applying a coat of paint?

A new invention on display at the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy conference in Washington, D.C., is hoping to do just that.

Xerox PARC created a magical paint that can self-cool whatever it’s painted on. Here’s how IEEE explains the magic:

“The paint is brimming with two different kids of metaparticles. One type of metaparticle reflects broadband sunlight, helping the paint to keep heat away from anything underneath it. The other type emits infrared radiation at between 8 and 13 nanometers, a wavelength that allows heat to pass straight through Earth’s atmosphere and into space, dropping the paint’s temperature below ambient temperature.”

When tested on commercial rooftops, the paint was able to keep building interiors nearly 54 degrees cooler compared to buildings with roofs painted with regular white paint.

What might be one of the most exciting parts of the technology is how affordable and easy to use it is.

The magic paint costs the same as a regular can of paint and can be brushed or sprayed onto most surfaces.

PARC predicts that just applying the paint could save the average home in California 50 percent of its energy costs for climate control.

The paint is only available as a prototype right now, but PARC hopes to have it on the market soon.


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned a degree in political science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the governor’s office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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Darrell Schwalbach
If this works it will be the greatest invention since Nitro Methane. I'm a racer!
4 weeks 1 day ago

Think spring: Time to plant!

Happy first day of spring! Time to put away the snow shovels (fingers crossed) and get out the gardening tools.

As if playing in the dirt and getting outside weren’t ...

Tagged: landscaping, saving energy, trees

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Think spring: Time to plant!

Model house in the woods popped out of a magazine

[D]id you know your landscaping could help you save on your energy bill?

Key Points

  • Good landscaping can save a lot of energy.
  • Use trees as wind breaks and shade.
  • Shrubs and groundcover plants can cool the air around your home. 

Happy first day of spring! Time to put away the snow shovels (fingers crossed) and get out the gardening tools.

As if playing in the dirt and getting outside weren’t motivation enough, did you know your landscaping could help you save on your energy bill? Before you dig in, check out these tips to use your landscaping to save energy.

  • Trees — According to the Department of Energy, carefully positioned trees can save up to 25 percent of the energy a typical household uses by providing shade and acting as a windbreak. In tree-shaded neighborhoods, the summer daytime air temperature can be up to 6 degrees cooler than in treeless areas. And windbreaks to the north, west and east of houses cut fuel consumption by an average of 40 percent. Check out this handy guide to decide which trees to plant where.
  • Shrubs – Groundcover plants like succulents and shrubs can cool the air before it reaches your home in the summer. Low shrubs on the windward side of your windbreak can also help trap snow before it blows next to your home in the winter.
  • Climbing vines – Consider shading your patio or deck with a trellis covered in climbing vines. It will help keep your outdoor living space cool, and cut down on the warm air that sneaks inside.
  • Now go enjoy the first day of spring. Picnics and bike rides encouraged. 

Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned a degree in political science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the governor’s office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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This company is trying to make energy savings fun

What if tracking your electrical data was fun?

Stop laughing. I'm being serious here.

There’s a new thing in the energy world that gamifies your energy savings.

And ...

Tagged: saving energy, energy data, gamify

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This company is trying to make energy savings fun

Graphic of someone using all the apps on their phone

One company is making it so fun it has 100,000 users and can take the power equivalent of up to 11,000 homes off the grid by sending out a simple text message.

Key Points

  • Energy savings is getting gamified.
  • That means tracking your electrical data can be fun.
  • Plus, it will help keep energy affordable. 

What if tracking your electrical data was fun?

Stop laughing. I'm being serious here.

There’s a new thing in the energy world that gamifies your energy savings.

And yes, “gamify” is a word.

One company is making it so fun it has 100,000 users and can take the power equivalent of up to 11,000 homes off the grid by sending out a simple text message.

It’s called OhmConnect, and its goal is to cut electricity demand during peak times so power companies don’t have to turn on extra power plants.

Here’s how it works: After you sign up OhmConnect, you’ll get alerts for specific times, like 5-6 p.m., when you should try to limit your electric use. So, you adjust the thermostat, welcome the excuse to stop doing laundry and hold off on starting to cook dinner. After the time is up, you go back to life as usual.

OhmConnect then compares your use during that hour to what you would normally use at that time. 

You get a credit for the difference.

These points add up, and eventually, you can cash them out with PayPal or pool your points with friends to donate money to a worthy cause, like your school or a local charity. The average pay out is $100 a year.

Games like this are only available in certain areas, but they’re getting more popular.

OhmConnect makes money from power companies by helping the electric market level off. The electric market benefits by not having to turn on more expensive power sources, and consumers win by saving energy and maybe even helping drive down energy costs overall.

See, it really does sound like run, right? Read more about one customer’s OhmConnect experience on NPR’s All Tech Considered.


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned a degree in political science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the governor’s office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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Shopping for a smart thermostat just got a lot easier

Energy Star now has specifications for smart thermostats. That means if you’re not sure which smart thermostat to buy, you can now look for the Energy Star label to help you weed ...

Tagged: smart thermostats, saving energy, energy star

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Shopping for a smart thermostat just got a lot easier

Woman uses a smart thermostat

Energy Star wanted to identify household thermostats that do more than just set the temperature. They set out to determine which smart thermostats result in actual energy savings.

Key Points

  • Using a smart thermostat can save you more than 8 percent on your heating and cooling energy.
  • There are now Energy Star ratings for smart thermostats.
  • The ratings are based on how easy they are to actually use and will make shopping much easier.

Energy Star now has specifications for smart thermostats. That means if you’re not sure which smart thermostat to buy, you can now look for the Energy Star label to help you weed through the options.

The average consumer using an Energy Star-certified smart thermostat will save more than 8 percent of their heating and cooling energy — or about $50 annually.

Figuring out which smart thermostats to endorse was a little trickier than with other products. Energy Star wanted to identify household thermostats that do more than just set the temperature. They set out to determine which smart thermostats result in actual energy savings.

To do that, they relied on information from field data instead of the laboratory tests they usually use to determine how efficient a product is. This field data showed how families and individuals used the thermostat’s technology and gave higher marks for things like connectivity, remote access and demand response.

Still not sure which one to get? Here are a few tips from Energy Star itself.

Which programmable thermostat is best for me?

In general, every programmable thermostat comes with four pre-programmed settings and maintains those settings within two degrees. Many qualified models also come with additional features, such as:

  • Digital, backlit displays
  • Touch pad screen programming
  • Voice and/or phone programming
  • Hold/vacation features
  • Indicators that tell you when it’s time to change air filters
  • Indicators that signal malfunctioning of heating/cooling systems
  • Adaptive recovery/smart recovery features, e.g. control features that sense the amount of time it will take to reach the next set-point temperature and reach desired temperatures by the set time

How do you choose the right one?

To decide which model is best for you, think about your schedule and how often you are away from home for regular periods of time — work, school, other activities — and then decide which of the three different models best fits your schedule: the 7-day, 5+2-day, or the 5-1-1-day.

7-day models are best if your daily schedule tends to change, say, if children are at home earlier on some days. They give you the most flexibility and lets you set different programs for different days — usually with four possible temperature periods per day.

5+2-day models use the same schedule every weekday and another for weekends.

5-1-1 models are best if you tend to keep one schedule Monday through Friday and another schedule on Saturdays and Sundays.

And here’s a video to break it down, no reading required:


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned a degree in political science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the governor’s office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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Seal up some savings this Presidents Day

Happy Presidents Day! I hope you’re having a wonderful day celebrating our U.S. presidents. If you have a chance between telling your favorite President Washington stories, you ...

Tagged: diy project, caulking, saving energy

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Seal up some savings this Presidents Day

Man caulks window

It’s the perfect shoulder-season project because it can help you save energy by keeping warm air in when it’s cold outside or keeping the cool air in when summer comes.

Key Points

  • Happy Presidents Day!
  • Use the holiday to tackle a DIY project.
  • Sealing your air leaks with caulk can save energy and money. 

Happy Presidents Day! I hope you’re having a wonderful day celebrating our U.S. presidents. If you have a chance between telling your favorite President Washington stories, you might use your three-day weekend to tackle a home project.

Here’s one that should only take a couple hours, cost $3-30 in materials and give you 20 percent energy savings: sealing your air leaks with caulk.

It’s the perfect shoulder-season project because it can help you save energy by keeping warm air in when it’s cold outside or keeping the cool air in when summer comes. (Soon, I hope!)

Here is your step-by-step guide courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy. I’m sure George Washington would be very impressed.

1. For good adhesion, clean all areas to be caulked.

Remove any old caulk and paint using a putty knife or a large screwdriver. Make sure the area is dry so you won't seal in moisture.

2. Prep the caulking gun (if you're using one).

Cut the tip of the cartridge of caulk at a 45-degree angle and insert the tube in the gun. If you’ve never used a caulking gun, take this time to do a “test caulking” on a newspaper or paper towel so you have a good sense of what to expect before taking your project to a more conspicuous door or window.

3. Hold the caulking gun at a 45-degree angle to the now-dried, clean edge that’s to be filled.

Using a “pulling” motion, hold the gun at a consistent angle and slide the tube nozzle along the joint while pulling the trigger of the caulk gun to apply the material. You know you've got the right angle when the caulk is immediately forced into the crack as it comes out of the tube. Try to avoid stops and starts by caulking in one straight continuous stream.

4. “Tool” the caulk by pushing it into the crack.

After you’ve covered 2-3 feet of the surface with a bead of caulk, dampen your finger (or spoon, piece of wood or foam paintbrush if you don’t want the material to touch your hand) and glide over the bead, pushing the caulk into the crack and force the caulk deeper into the crack you’re filling.

5. Clean up any mistakes or excess caulk with a damp cloth.

Make sure to take care of any problem areas right away, since dried caulk is much harder to clean up later.

6. Allow the caulk to dry according to the directions on the package.

It usually takes about 24 hours for the caulk to fully cure, but it can depend on air temperature and humidity.


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned a degree in political science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the governor’s office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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This post-holiday bargain will save you money now — and later

You’ve been shopping all month getting ready for the holidays. What could you possibly need next week after the Christmas gifts have all been opened?

LED Christmas lights.

Yes, ...

Tagged: leds, saving energy, Saving Money

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This post-holiday bargain will save you money now — and later

LED holiday lights twinkle in the dark

LED Christmas lights go on sale big time after Christmas, so buying them now will save you money at the point of purchase, plus you’ll save money on your energy bill next year when you put them up.

Key Points

  • LED holiday lights save energy and help keep your energy costs down.
  • If you’ve been on the fence, consider buying them right after Christmas.
  • Many stores mark them down as much as 50 percent right after the holidays. 

You’ve been shopping all month getting ready for the holidays. What could you possibly need next week after the Christmas gifts have all been opened?

LED Christmas lights.

Yes, you’re probably ready to finally take your lights down, but trust me on this.

LED Christmas lights go on sale big time after Christmas, so buying them now will save you money at the point of purchase, plus you’ll save money on your energy bill next year when you put them up. And yes, this means that you can’t leave this year’s lights up all year and just plug them in again come November. Busted.

Still not convinced? Here’s a breakdown of the savings you’ll see with LED lights, courtesy of the Department of Energy:

Estimated cost of electricity to light a six-foot tree for 12 hours a day for 40 days

Incandescent C-9 lights

$10

LED C-9 lights

$0.27

Incandescent Mini-lights

$2.74

LED Mini-lights

$0.82

Estimated cost* of buying and operating lights for 10 holiday seasons

Incandescent C-9 lights

$122.19

LED C-9 lights

$17.99

Incandescent Mini-lights

$55.62

LED Mini-lights

$33.29

*Assumes 50 C-9 bulbs and 200 mini-lights per tree, with electricity at $0.119 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) (AEO 2012 Residential Average). Prices of lights based on quoted prices for low volume purchases from major home improvement retailers. All costs have been discounted at an annual rate of 5.6%. Life span assumed to be three seasons (1,500 hours) for non-LED lights.

Not only do LED holiday lights consume less electricity, they also have the following advantages:

  • Safer: LEDs are much cooler than incandescent lights, reducing the risk of combustion or burnt fingers.
  • Sturdier: LEDs are made with epoxy lenses, not glass, and are much more resistant to breakage.
  • Longer lasting: The same LED string could still be in use 40 holiday seasons from now.
  • Easier to install: Up to 25 strings of LEDs can be connected, end-to-end, without overloading a wall socket.

So go treat yourself to some short-term and long-term savings after Christmas. I knew those power shopping skills had value. 


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned a degree in political science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the governor’s office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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Read this before you get your game face on

And we’re off.

The shopping season has officially begun.

Before you head out to fight the crowds and buy that gamer in your life the console of his or her dreams, ...

Tagged: gamer energy, saving energy, holidays

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Read this before you get your game face on

Gamer in the light of the screen

Before you head out to fight the crowds and buy that gamer in your life the console of his or her dreams, check out these tips from Energy Star about how to save a little energy when you set them up on Christmas morning.

Key Points

  • Shopping season is here.
  • Before you hit the sales, make sure to check out a product’s power-saving features.
  • Many game consoles have special features to help save energy. 

And we’re off.

The shopping season has officially begun.

Before you head out to fight the crowds and buy that gamer in your life the console of his or her dreams, check out these tips from Energy Star about how to save a little energy when you set them up on Christmas morning.

  • Activate power-saving settings: Xbox One comes set up to listen for the “Xbox On” command to turn on and allow other devices to access it through the network. By configuring the “Energy-saving Power Mode,” you can disable such features and drop the Xbox One's standby power use by 98 percent! The Play Station 4, with software updates, enters a low power “Rest” mode after one hour of inactivity; you can reduce that time to save even more. Users can also enable time limits for USB power charging when the PS4 is in “Rest” mode. The Wii U’s power consumption is already optimized in all non-gaming modes, consuming less than half a watt when your console is standing by.
  • Turn off the controllers: The PS4 includes a useful feature that allows the controllers to turn themselves off when not in use. You can choose to turn off your controllers automatically after 10 minutes, 30 minutes or 60 minutes, depending on your gameplay habits.
  • Dis-Kinect when you aren’t using it: Xbox’s Kinect accessory can instantly recognize your body movements. This feature can use up to 14 watts when the game console is in use. So if you don’t use Kinect often, consider disconnecting it.
  • Keep up on your updates: With Sony’s System Software version 2.0 update, the PS4 now powers down automatically, and the USB ports enter a much lower power state once connected controllers are fully charged, dropping the power consumption by over 65 percent.

Don’t tell my daughters, but Santa is bringing them a bike and trampoline. I’ve yet to see any energy tips for those, but you’ll be the first to know if I track any down.


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned a degree in political science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the governor’s office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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Shower vs. iron: The most energy-efficient way to get wrinkle-free

Some might call it the lazy man’s wrinkle releaser. Instead of reaching for the iron, you turn on a hot shower and hang a garment in the bathroom for a quick steam to get out the ...

Tagged: Energy Efficiency, saving energy

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Shower vs. iron: The most energy-efficient way to get wrinkle-free

Wrinkly dog wears ironed clothes

The guys over at Touchstone Energy did an analysis to compare the two methods. Here’s what they found.

Key Points

  • It’s time to settle the iron versus shower debate for once and for all.
  • No matter how convenient it might seem, steaming your clothes in the shower isn’t the best choice.
  • The shower method uses 16 times more energy than an iron.

Some might call it the lazy man’s wrinkle releaser. Instead of reaching for the iron, you turn on a hot shower and hang a garment in the bathroom for a quick steam to get out the creases. But that shortcut might be costing you a lot on your energy bill (and few angry family members who had to take cold showers).

The guys over at Touchstone Energy did an analysis to compare the two methods. Here’s what they found:

Iron

A typical iron is rated at 1,100 watts. Settings will vary, but let’s assume the iron uses 1,100 watts, and it takes you 15 minutes (0.25 hours) to iron your clothes. Energy used = (1,100 watts x 0.25 hours) / (1,000 watts/KW) = 0.275 kWh. That’s about 3.5 cents worth of electricity at the 2015 national average residential cost of electricity, 12.7 cents according to EIA.gov.

Shower

Let’s assume you are at home with your water heater set at 120 degrees. Most shower heads are limited to a 2.5 gallon per minute flow.

So how much energy would it take to heat the water used if you turned on the shower for the same 15 minutes it took you to iron? We will only consider the energy used to heat the water, and we will assume we are using an electric resistance water heater. With the shower on at 2 gallons per minute, the answer is a surprising 4.4 kWh — 16 times more than the iron.

As with most things, using the right tool for the job is usually the best choice. And you won’t even have to answer to anyone for using up all the hot water.


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned a degree in political science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the governor’s office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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