Xbox One 'Instant On' Feature Costs US Gamers an Extra $250M in Electricity Per Year

CC BY 2.0. Mack Male

Time is money, or perhaps I should say convenience is money, when it comes to the "instant on" feature of this popular gaming console.

Got a new Microsoft Xbox One in your house? It's probably costing you a chunk of change in extra electricity costs, even when nobody is using it. The game console's instant on feature, which "listens" for users to activate it with their voice, is responsible for almost 40% of the device's annual energy consumption, and could be costing gamers an estimated $250 million USD in extra electricity costs.

According to Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which has been warning us for years about the excessive power consumption from the standby and instant on feature on many home electronics, that's not the case for Xbox Ones purchased in Europe, as that feature is deactivated by default, allowing users to turn on the feature if desired. The models sold in the US, however, come with the instant on feature already activated, and users must navigate deep within the settings menu to change that, something that NRDC's Noah Horowitz believes "few are likely to do."

"The "Instant On" mode, which started as the culprit for almost half of the console's annual energy consumption, is still responsible for close to 40 percent of the total, and it's still ridiculous that an option that many users may not care for should hog so much energy." - NRDC

Horowitz calls this a "poorly designed feature," and says that despite repeated requests from the NRDC, Microsoft refuses to fix it, which is resulting in a huge waste of energy by the 7 million Xbox One consoles that have been sold so far in North America. He notes that while Microsoft reduced the power consumption from the instant on feature down to 12.5W from 18W, it still draws a considerable amount of power. Horowitz goes on to mention that users are not given the option to disable it during the initial setup, which would be "a much more rational and environmentally responsible approach."

The good news is, it's easy to deactivate the instant on feature on the Xbox One once you know how:

"To activate the energy-saving mode, go to the Home screen, press the Menu button on the controller, select Settings, then Power and Startup, and select the Energy-saving power mode."

Another home media energy-saving tip shared by Horowitz is to not use an Xbox or PlayStation to stream movies with, as they can draw up to 45 times more power than watching the same movie using Roku Box, Apple TV, or the Chromecast stick.