Carbon Footprint of Video Game Consoles

While I didn’t really participate in Earth Hour (I was at a wedding dinner), it did get me thinking about carbon footprints and how as gamers, we are contributing to the global warming problem. After all, all our devices ranging from PCs to home video game consoles such as the PS3 to handheld consoles such as the Nintendo DS require electricity to run.

I Google-ed on video games and carbon footprints, hoping to get some insight on the matter, but with not much luck. In any case, I decided to do some calculations on my own, and based with some formulas and data obtained from the Internet, come up with some numbers.

The three current generation consoles, namely the Sony Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and the Nintendo Wii, are today’s carbon footprint calculation subjects. As a pre-requisite we’ll need to know how many watts each console consumes.

I obtained the numbers from this site, and on average the PS3 consumes (for the sake of making it easier to count, I disregard the decimal point) 186 watts, the Xbox 360 176 watts and the really frugal Nintendo Wii, 17 watts.

The first set of calculation involves converting watts into kilowatt hour (kW.h) using the following formula:  watts * number of hours *  number of days in a month/ 1000.

Let’s start with the PS3, since I own one and I clock-in roughly average of 2 hours on that console per day: 186 watts * 2 hours * 30 /1000 = 11.16 kW.h

The carbon footprint is calculated based on multiplying the kW.h amount by 12 months followed by multiplying the amount with the grames of CO2 generated per kWh. This amount is then divided by 1000 squared in order to come up with tonnes of CO2 created, and this figure is essentially the carbon footprint.

This gets a little tricky as different places employ different means of generating electricity. While you have Nuclear Reactors in the States to do the job (6 grams of CO2 per kW.h), over here in Malaysia, I get electricity from a smokey coal Power Plant. These types are belchers at an average of 980 grams of CO2 per kW.h. (Wikipedia)

With that in mind, the carbon footprint for running my PS3 for 2 hours a day, everyday for a year would be: 11.16 * 12 * 980 / (1000 * 1000) = 0.131 tonnes of CO2 a year. Applying the same set of variables (except for watts) on the Xbox 360 (10.56 kW.h) and Nintendo Wii (1.02 kW.h)and you’ll get 0.12 and 0.011 tonnes of CO2 respectively.

Do take  note that these calculations do not take into account the television and maybe the air-conditioning you have switched on while playing games. It does still feel pretty big though, 0.131 tonnes of carbon dioxide. I’ll probably cut back on leaving the console switched on to download stuff.

What about you?

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  1. alibrainers May 6, 2009

    whoaa.. i didn’t know that much before i read this topic. now we must start to calculating what we done that effect our green peace world, even its our gaming hobbies. thanks

  2. Laura Perkins November 20, 2014

    thanks for this legwork!!! One figure I saw is that trees can sequester about 58.8 tonnes of CO2 per acre. That number seems highly variable, but its a start.