DVRs and Cable Boxes Use Too Much Electricity Even When Turned Off covers the recent findings reported in the New York Times that DVRs and Cable Boxes Top List of Home Energy Hogs. The Times article by Elisabeth Rosenthal is available here.

I miss the rotary cable box that my family had when I was a child. It required no power and it had only two coaxial connections–one in and one out. You turned the dial to one of the 30 or so available channels and the box would descramble the selected channel.

I really don’t like modern cable boxes. They are big and bulky. Many have loads of connectors that you more than likely don’t need. Worse of all, they have to be plugged into an electrical outlet. There is a clock on the front of the box that runs constantly. The internal circuitry apparently runs all the time, because the top is always very warm to the touch. I have had to rearrange my bookshelves near the TV so that there is enough space to allow the cable box to vent while not having enough to allow my cat to take a nap on top of it. The constant heat from the cable box even when it is “turned off” means that the cable box is constantly working. Furthermore, you can’t unplug the cable box without it needing about five minutes of startup time to display an image. If nothing else is done about cable boxes, they should be made so that they quickly sync with the cable network and allow normal operation from an unplugged state. This would result in tremendous electrical savings.

Published by Jason W. Ellis

I am an Associate Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY whose teaching includes composition and technical communication, and research focuses on science fiction, neuroscience, and digital technology. Also, I direct the B.S. in Professional and Technical Writing Program and coordinate the City Tech Science Fiction Collection, which holds more than 600 linear feet of magazines, anthologies, novels, and research publications.