Though they are small network equipment, Internet cable modems and wifi routers consume as much energy as a 32-inch TV in even when they are not in use, says a report, Cutting energy costs to connect to the Internet, from the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The modems and routers are now used in 90 million homes and cost $1 billion a year in energy costs, drawing the equivalent of three power plants worth of energy, says the report.
But modem and router manufacturers and the Consumer Electronics Association counter that it is still a small amount of energy that costs the average household $5 to $6 a year, which comprises a very small portion of the household’s energy costs, NBC News reports.
The energy consumed may be minimal in comparison to game consoles and refrigerators, but the EPA has taken note of how they drain energy even when they are not in use. It is expected to issue Energy Star standard for routers and modems some time this summer, which may lead to more energy efficient models in the market next year.
Turning them off each time people leave the house or go to bed may not be practical, especially because this may require rebooting each time. But a smart power strip is a simple solution that senses when devices plugged into it are not in use and it can automatically turn down the energy to a trickle, NBC News says.
It’s not just the equipment we use to connect to the Internet, it’s the Internet itself that is power hungry, says Energy Manager Today guest columnist Gerald Hoyt. At 2.4 billion users, the number of users have doubled in the last 5 years and if one were to try to store all of the information out there, it would take 7 million DVDs, says Hoyt, who is the head of communications at WSI. All of this consumes 30 billion watts, at a cost of $8.5 billion a year and represents 1.5 percent of all the electricity used worldwide.