Power down your cable or DVR box when it's not in use

Why? Most set-top boxes in homes today continuously operate at near full power, even when no one is actively watching or recording a show. Households with one HD DVR and a second HD set-top box may use more than 440 kWh per year on these devices alone — that's more electricity than it takes to run a new, average-size ENERGY STAR® refrigerator.
How it works:
  • Plugging your set-top box, television, and other home theater equipment into the same power bar and then turning that power bar off when you're not using the TV will help you save on energy costs.
  • Plan to turn on your set-top box a few minutes before you intend to start using it, as the box may take some time to boot up. (See below for more information.)
  • ENERGY STAR certified set-top boxes (Version 3.0 or higher) are designed to be 35% more efficient than conventional models and are now widely available from most cable and satellite TV providers. Contact your cable or satellite provider to inquire about swapping out your existing box for an ENERGY STAR Version 3.0 or higher model.

Go the extra mile:

  • If your outlets or power bar switch are difficult to reach, try a "smart power bar," which can turn off selected devices completely when one device — such as your television — is turned off or in standby mode.
  • If you use your DVR to record programs you can't watch live, consider reducing your electricity use by watching those shows on a more energy-efficient device — such as a laptop — instead.
  • If you have multiple DVRs in your home, consider paring down to one or keeping the extra DVRs unplugged until they are needed.

Good to know:

  • Since network infrastructure cannot support full functionality without regular software and data updates, your set-top box could, in some cases, take up to three hours to refresh its systems and load certain features, such as the digital programming guide, after being unplugged. You may be able to watch TV during some of this start-up time, but may not have access to your set-top box's functionality, including your program guide.
  • If a box has been unplugged for several weeks, you may need to call your cable or satellite provider to reinitialize it.

Helpful terms: Like TVs, stereos, game consoles, and many other home electronics, most current cable and satellite set-top boxes consume a significant amount of energy when they are turned off but plugged in. This is sometimes called a "phantom load."

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