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Another benefit to cord cutting: It will slash your monthly electric bill

Published Jun 17th, 2014 8:30PM EDT
Cable Set-Top Box Power Consumption

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If you find your electric bill has skyrocketed this summer, your air conditioner may not be the only culprit. The Los Angeles Times reports that cable set-top boxes are now consume more power in our homes than any other household appliance other than air conditioners. The reason for this is that set-top boxes are using almost as much power when they’re supposedly shut off as when they’re turned on while you’re watching TV.

“A set-top cable box with a digital recorder can consume as much as 35 watts of power, costing about $8 a month for a typical Southern California consumer,” The L.A. Times writes. “The devices use nearly as much power turned off as they do when they are turned on.”

In contrast, laptops and smartphones are much more energy efficient when they aren’t turned on because they don’t have to constantly update their programming guides and download new software updates the way that set-top boxes do. This means that to stop it from consuming power, you’ll need to unplug your cable box when it’s not in use, but this can also be incredibly annoying because it can take a while to reboot your set-top box once it’s been completely shut off.

“It is a classic case of market failure,” Andrew McAllister, a member of the California Energy Commission, tells The L.A. Times. “The consumers have zero information and zero control over the devices they get.”

Brad Reed
Brad Reed Staff Writer

Brad Reed has written about technology for over eight years at and Network World. Prior to that, he wrote freelance stories for political publications such as AlterNet and the American Prospect. He has a Master's Degree in Business and Economics Journalism from Boston University.