The DVR Dilemma: Turn off the Power Hog?

The DVR Dilemma: Turn off the Power Hog?

Taryn Williford
Jun 17, 2011

We all want to conserve energy, right? I mean, seeing the electric bill shrink from month to month isn't bad news for anybody. But what lengths will you go to to save a few joules? For instance, your DVR is a huge power hog. But if you unplug it before a lengthy vacation—the same way you might unplug the TV or turn off the A/C—it's not going to be able to fulfill it's only purpose. Is it practical? Is it worth it?

Do you have any idea how big an energy hog your DVR can be? The Natural Resources Defense Council tallied up the energy used by several different pieces of household tech, and the DVR came out on top (well, bottom, we guess):

Lifehacker, covering the NRDC report, gave us some great advice today about turning off our DVR when it's not in use to save energy:

Since the boxes don't really ever go to sleep, they just keep burning up the meter until they're shut down. It's not about cheap set-top boxes, either, because the nicer the cable box or DVR, the higher the power consumption.

It's great advice, in theory. But in practice, we have to wonder how useful it really is.

Since the DVR was designed to work for us when we're not home, it's not something you want to unplug when you leave for work or on vacation (Standby mode does just as much vampire damage as when it's powered on). And when you get home, you'll want to watch your saved shows, keeping the power sucking device on even longer.

I guess the usefulness of the "Turn off your DVR" advice depends on your lifestyle. If you use it infrequently enough to leave it powered off 5 nights a week, then it's a good idea. But for someone like me, who's constantly taping new series and double-booking her DVR, I'll just leave it on 'round the clock. It's the price you pay for watch-when-you-want convenience.

(Images: Flickr member stevegarfield licensed for use under Creative Commons,

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