Recent Study Unearths Unexpected Energy Hog in Your Home

Recent Study Unearths Unexpected Energy Hog in Your Home

According to a recent study by the National Resources Defense Council that ranks the biggest energy hogs in your home, the device that’s using up the most energy is probably not what you’d expect—it’s the pairing of your DVR and set-top box.

What is a Set-top box?
It is a cable, satellite, Internet Protocol or other device whose principal function is to receive television signals from a specific source and deliver them to a consumer display and/or recording device, such as a television or DVR.

What’s all the fuss about?
Many people would be surprised to find out that the pairing of your digital video recorder and set-top box is the biggest energy hog in a household. On average, set-top boxes use 446 kilowatt hours per year, per household. That is more than a new Energy Star rated 21 cubic-foot refrigerator, which uses 415 kilowatt hours per year.

The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that there are 160 million set top boxes currently installed in U.S. homes, emitting 16 million metric tons of carbon dioxide every year. NRDC found that set-top boxes operate at near full power even when we, the consumers, aren’t even watching television or recording a show!

Luckily, there’s a solution to the issue, one that is a main stay in many European countries; devices with the ability to go into standby mode, or “deep sleep” that can cut down energy use by 50 to 95 percent. Below, we’ve listed some energy efficient set-top boxes that utilize this stand-by feature.

Most efficient Set-top Boxes by company


  • Motorola DCH70 – 10 W while active, 10W while on standby
  • Pace RNG110 –best high definition box—13W active, 12W standby
  • Motorola DCX3400 –best HD/DVR—29W active, 28W standby

Verizon Fios:

  • Motorola QIP7216—29W active, 28W standby
  • If you have the older Motorola QIP6416, get rid of it – 36W active, 35W standby

Time Warner:

  • For a high definition, non-DVR box, the Cisco Explorer 4250HDC is most efficient. 19W active, 18W standby


  • Standard box—12W active, 9W standby
  • Best HD box is the DirecTV H24—16W active, 15W standby
  • Best HD/DVR is the DirecTV HR24—31W active, 31W standby

Dish Network:

  • These might as well be powering nuclear reactors. The “best” DVR is the ViP922 – 43W active, 40W standby.
  • Worst is the ViP722 – 55W active, 52W standby

For more info, see these two articles from CNET and PopSci.