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Tom’s Guide Power Challenge: The Big Reveal

The Results Are In

Aaaand...we’re back! Hopefully you caught the first part of our Power Challenge, went through the twenty electronics items from around my house, tallied up the estimated used and saved power, and filled out a contest entry. Again, I had five items picked out (switch, router, access point, NAS device, and air filter) to be turned off with Belkin Conserve power strips during hours in which they would be unneeded. I would then analyze the usage data for the remaining 15 items, pick the five with the most egregious idle power drain, put the Conserve strips on these, then measure a 24-hour usage period to arrive at a “conserved” usage estimate.

When arriving at a daily or monthly cost of operation per device, I used the national average rate of 10.53 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). Keep in mind that in averaging and rounding to decimal places, there may be slight variances in cost vs. kWh computations.

Across 20 devices, I had many predictable outcomes and some odd surprises. If nothing else, it sure gives food for thought. Shall we get to it?

1. The TV.

My 50" Fujitsu plasma is coming up on seven years of use. The disappearance of Fujitsu from the TV market is a minor tragedy, because these really were excellent sets. Unlike many mainstream panels that arrive with the brightness set to “nuclear” in order to look impressive in a big showroom, Fujitsu calibrated its plasmas at the factory for typical indoor use, and I’ve dialed it down a pinch from there, just because most of our viewing is at night. Still, plasmas are pigs. You can feel the heat radiating off of them after an hour or so. My set consumed between 400W and 410W when active. Fortunately, it registered as only 1W in standby.

Single day consumption: 1.56 kWh (16.43 cents)

2. The DVR.

The Motorola QIP 7216 HD DVR supplied by Verizon for its FiOS TV service is quiet and dependable. Unfortunately, it appears to have no standby mode. I always assumed that when one turned the power off, the thing went into a PC-like, low-power state. Not so! During active recording of an HD channel, which would presumably be its highest-power state, the set-top pulled 34W. When not recording and simply displaying a TV show, it averaged about 33.3W. When turned off it still averaged 33.3W. What’s up with that? I get that some aspects of the box need to stay active in order to record scheduled shows, but come on, Motorola. That sucks. How much does it suck? Let’s see...

Single day consumption: 0.80 kWh (8.42 cents)