Q. Ever since we got our PlayStation last year, I noticed our electric bill has gone up by about $8 or $9 a month. My boyfriend insists that it's a coincidence and that the price of electricity probably just happened to go up a little, but I suspect the PlayStation is the culprit. Who's right? – Marianna, TX

A. As any man who’s married or in a relationship knows, the woman’s always right. This is no exception. You win (duh)—the PlayStation is indeed the culprit. Turns out video game consoles can gobble up electricity as fast as Ms. Pac-Man swallows pellets. The Natural Resources Defense Council just did a report on them and found that Sony’s latest iteration of the PlayStation (the PS3, which came out last year) uses around $134 worth of electricity a year. That makes it the worst of all the latest generation platforms, consuming slightly more than the Xbox 360 ($103/year) and gobs more than Nintendo’s Wii, which uses a wee $10 worth of juice a year. (Anyone who lobbied for the Wii instead of the PlayStation can sure feel smug now.)  

But the report also had one major piece of good news. You can dramatically reduce your PlayStation’s energy consumption—to only about $12 in electricity per year—by simply saving your game and powering down when you’re not playing. Not only that, you can easily set your console to do so automatically; The NRDC has posted step-by-step instructions here. Yes, it’s that easy.

So why don’t consoles come pre-set to power down mode as the default? In the future, they will, if the NRDC gets its way. The organization is working with the industry to put simple energy saving features like auto power-down or sleep mode into new gaming consoles. If this happens, US CO2 emissions will go down by seven million tons a year. And in the meantime, you can save a hundred bucks a year by taking a few minutes to tinker with your set-up menu. Let’s be real: If you’re a true gamer, you know you know how to change that setting in about 2.4 seconds. Just do it like Nike

Now celebrate by treating your honey to your Guitar Hero rendition of “Sweet Emotion,” knowing that your next electricity bill will be a little bit sweeter.

Story by Sarah Schmidt. This article originally appeared in Plenty in December 2008.

Copyright Environ Press 2008