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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Don’t fall for these summer savings scams

Some people call it gullible, but I call it choosing to trust people.

Sure, I’ve fallen for my fair share of jokes, like the time I truly believed that I could catch ...

Tagged: energy-savings myths, summer, Saving Money

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Don’t fall for these summer savings scams

Woman's face and hair freeze as she's blasted by an A/C unit

Now that I’m an adult, I’m very wise and definitely won’t fall for things like these summer energy efficiency myths.

Key Points

  • There are plenty of myths about energy savings.
  • Your home won’t cool more quickly if set your thermostat really low.
  • Fans cool people, not rooms, and shutting vents in unused rooms is hard on your system. 

Some people call it gullible, but I call it choosing to trust people.

Sure, I’ve fallen for my fair share of jokes, like the time I truly believed that I could catch a “snipe” bird by staying out all night with a garbage bag and flash light at summer camp. I was determined. And also bore the brunt of a lot of jokes when I was the last kid who figured out it was all an elaborate scheme.

Now that I’m an adult, I’m very wise and definitely won’t fall for things like these summer energy efficiency myths.

  1. Cool your house down quickly by setting your thermostat really low — You get home from work. Your house is really warm and stuffy, so you head over to the thermostat and set it to 55 degrees to cool it down quickly. Great idea, right? Wrong. Setting it to a lower temperature does not speed up the cooling time. The HVAC will work at the same pace until it reaches a certain temperature. Plus, you’ll be wasting a lot of energy if you forget to reset your thermostat later. Instead, just set it where you want it. Or better yet, get a programmable thermostat. That way you don’t have to keep your A/C running all day, but the HVAC can kick in right before you get home.
  2. Save energy by shutting the vents in unused rooms — We hardly ever use the spare room in the basement, so I should just shut the vent in there, right? Nope. Turns out that shutting vents can actually put extra strain on your system. Most central air systems are designed to distribute air throughout the entire house. Blocking vents messes with them and can lead to more system break downs.
  3. Run ceiling fans all the time to help keep the house cool — Fans cool you down, so you decide to keep them on all the time as a major cooling source — even when you’re not there. Bad idea. Fans make you feel cool because the breeze they create cools your skin. But they don’t change the temperature in the room. So, if there isn’t anyone there to benefit from the breeze, you’re better off turning it off and saving some electricity.

Now you don’t need to worry about falling for these myths ever again. And as a bonus tip, never trust an overly enthusiastic camp counselor who thinks it will be really fun to go on a snipe hunt. 


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.

Did you like this article? Here are some other articles that include: energy-savings myths, summer, Saving Money

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Don’t fall for these summer savings scams

Some people call it gullible, but I call it choosing to trust people.

Sure, I’ve fallen for my fair share of jokes, like the time I truly believed that I could catch ...

Tagged: energy savings myths, summer, Saving Money

Expand Article

Don’t fall for these summer savings scams

Woman's face and hair freeze as she's blasted by cold air from an A/C unit.

Now that I’m an adult, I’m very wise and definitely won’t fall for things like these summer energy efficiency myths.

Key Points

  • There are plenty of myths about energy savings.
  • Your home won’t cool more quickly if set your thermostat really low.
  • Fans cool people, not rooms, and shutting vents in unused rooms is hard on your system. 

Some people call it gullible, but I call it choosing to trust people.

Sure, I’ve fallen for my fair share of jokes, like the time I truly believed that I could catch a “snipe” bird by staying out all night with a garbage bag and flash light at summer camp. I was determined. And also bore the brunt of a lot of jokes when I was the last kid who figured out it was all an elaborate scheme.

Now that I’m an adult, I’m very wise and definitely won’t fall for things like these summer energy efficiency myths.

  1. Cool your house down quickly by setting your thermostat really low — You get home from work. Your house is really warm and stuffy, so you head over to the thermostat and set it to 55 degrees to cool it down quickly. Great idea, right? Wrong. Setting it to a lower temperature does not speed up the cooling time. The HVAC will work at the same pace until it reaches a certain temperature. Plus, you’ll be wasting a lot of energy if you forget to reset your thermostat later. Instead, just set it where you want it. Or better yet, get a programmable thermostat. That way you don’t have to keep your A/C running all day, but the HVAC can kick in right before you get home.
  2. Save energy by shutting the vents in unused rooms — We hardly ever use the spare room in the basement, so I should just shut the vent in there, right? Nope. Turns out that shutting vents can actually put extra strain on your system. Most central air systems are designed to distribute air throughout the entire house. Blocking vents messes with them and can lead to more system break downs.
  3. Run ceiling fans all the time to help keep the house cool — Fans cool you down, so you decide to keep them on all the time as a major cooling source — even when you’re not there. Bad idea. Fans make you feel cool because the breeze they create cools your skin. But they don’t change the temperature in the room. So, if there isn’t anyone there to benefit from the breeze, you’re better off turning it off and saving some electricity.

Now you don’t need to worry about falling for these myths ever again. And as a bonus tip, never trust an overly enthusiastic camp counselor who thinks it will be really fun to go on a snipe hunt.


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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Canon ball! How to save money and energy at the pool

We have an old-school neighborhood pool nearby. No fancy slides or fountains, just a bare spot where a diving board used to dare little ones to canon ball. It’s a small pool, the ...

Tagged: summer, pool, Energy, Energy.gov

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Canon ball! How to save money and energy at the pool

Cannon ball splash

As we splashed in the baby pool the other day, I started to wonder how much energy goes into maintaining it.

Key Points

  • Pools are fun, but use a lot of energy.
  • Use a pool cover to conserve water and save on pool heating costs.
  • Each degree rise in pool temperature costs 10-30% more in energy costs.

We have an old-school neighborhood pool nearby. No fancy slides or fountains, just a bare spot where a diving board used to dare little ones to canon ball. It’s a small pool, the kind of place where the lifeguards know me by name — “June’s mom.” 

As we splashed in the baby pool the other day, I started to wonder how much energy goes into maintaining it. So I asked. And yes, someday I’m sure June will be very embarrassed that I talk to all our friends, family and acquaintances about their energy use.

The pool’s staff explained to me that their main priority is safety. Some of the upgrades made with safety in mind have had an unintended bonus of also saving energy. One example is the pumping system. They updated the pool’s pumps and filters recently to meet safety standards. The new filters turn off automatically if someone’s hair gets caught in it, etc. These new systems also tend to be much more energy efficient than the systems installed a few decades ago.

They also recently installed motion detection lights for safety, but they help save on energy for lighting.

If you swim at an older pool (more than 10 years old), consider talking with the staff to make sure their systems are safe. Hopefully they can even save a little energy if they need to make upgrades.

If you have a private pool in your backyard, here are some tips from energy.gov to save some energy and money:

  • Use a pool cover when your pool is not in use to reduce water loss through evaporation and save up to 50 to 70 percent on your pool heating costs.
  • Determine the best temperature for your pool to ensure you are operating your pool for maximum efficiency. Most pools are kept at 78-82 degrees; each degree rise in temperature will cost 10 to 30 percent more in energy costs, depending on your location.
  • Install an efficient swimming pool heater. Learn your options and estimate the costs for gas, heat pump or solar pool heaters.
  • Install an energy-saving pool pump and operate it efficiently.

Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the entire world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned an M.A.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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Showing 1 Comments (oldest to newest)

alexfleedman
Let's face it, pools are not the most important commodity item, but if you are in California, it's hard to say no. So these valuable tips will actually help you be a real smart Californian environmentalist at some point, be a savior for your own budget and the budget of your state, and the best part - to be a noble citizen and a smart human who makes a difference. You don't need to overpay, one cover will save you more than you expected so your bills won't bother you again (find out more on onlinepaydaycalifornia.com). In fact, the weight of your pocket depends on you now even more than ever.
1 year 12 months ago