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07/12/2011

PVRs, cable boxes are energy gulpers: report

Trying to save money on your electricity bill? You might want to unplug your cable box/PVR.

A new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council suggests cable and satellite set-top boxes use about the same electricity, whether or not they’re switched on.

Actually, the study suggests some use more energy than your fridge. That’s cold news for energy conservation.

As a whole, the “phantom power” these gadgets consume collectively costs Canadians at least $250 million a year, according to this report.

One reason is these set-top boxes are not designed to be very power efficient. Cellphones – which also need to be in constant contact with their service provider – have come a long way in using less juice.

It appears that certain home electronics, including many audio/video components, haven’t come as far. Chargers, microwaves, your TV – they all sip on electricity when switched to off or standby and you’re fast asleep at 3 a.m.

One solution is to unplug your devices – including that cable box – when you’re not watching TV. An easier option is to buy a special power bar that will automatically kill power to connected devices when they’re turned off.

That can be problematic, however, if you set it to record a show automatically when you’re not home. Gain a little conservation, lose a little convenience.

Do you think home electronics need to get more power-efficient when they’re not in use?

- Maurice Cacho, MSN Tech & Gadgets

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Danny BradburyDanny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury is a technology journalist with 20 years' experience. He writes regularly for publications including the Guardian, the Financial Times, the Financial Post, and Backbone magazine. Danny also writes and directs documentaries.

Maurice CachoMaurice Cacho

Maurice Cacho is a Toronto-based journalist mixing his love for tech with a passion for news. He's also CP24's Web Journalist and appears daily on CP24 Breakfast and weekly on the channel's tech show, Webnation, discussing tech news and trends.

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