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Modern gaming machines guzzle four times more energy than 90s classics


  • Today’s high tech consoles cost £43 to run annually vs £11 for those from the 1990s
  • It costs 1p to play a game of FIFA compared to 68p to complete Batman Arkham Knight
  • £1 of electricity gives 49 hours of play on a Sega Mega Drive compared to 25 hours on a PS4
  • British Gas Home Energy Report reveals the trends in home energy usage

With 20 million of us playing computer games in the UK, new consoles and games will be at the top of many Christmas lists this year.

But a new report, commissioned by British Gas, has found that increased functionality has meant that the cost of being a gamer today has quadrupled since the 1990’s. While most household appliances are much more energy efficient, today’s high tech gaming models demand twice the amount of power as a classic console, an average of 272 watts per hour. They also operate all the time, using considerable power even on standby mode.

Next generation consoles like the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 cost up to £43 to run per year compared to just £11 for a classic console like the Nintendo 64. This means a home’s games console costs more than twice as much to run as the typical fridge, which is just £18 per year, according to the Home Energy Report, commissioned by British Gas and collated by the Centre for Economic and Business Research (Cebr). 

The PlayStation 4 consumes the greatest amount of electricity per hour at 285 watts, closely followed by the Xbox at 254 watts. In contrast, old favourites produced in the 1990s, such as the Sega Mega Drive, Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64 and Sony’s first PlayStation, all consume less than 150 watts per hour.

Looking at the most popular video games, Cebr figures show an average year’s play of World of Warcraft represents a massive 1180 hours of entertainment, costing almost £32 in energy. On a smaller scale, completing post-apocalyptic shooter Fallout 4 will cost £1.69, and squeezing in a quick half an hour game of FIFA will only set you back about a penny (see notes to editors for the full games list).

Cebr research also shows that the vintage consoles released in the 1990’s could run for 48 hours straight on just £1’s worth of electricity. Today, substantially more powerful processing, network, memory and graphics components draw much more power, with the likes of the Xbox One only providing 22 hours of entertainment per £1 of energy.

Daniel Colford, Smart Energy Expert at British Gas, said “While other modern household appliances like washing machines and fridges use less energy than they did twenty years ago, the cost of games consoles continue to rise. This is not surprising given how much more functionality games consoles now have.

Whether you’re an occasional player or a seasoned pro, understanding how much it costs to use entertainment gadgets and other devices at home can be really useful. I’d also recommend making sure your console is properly turned off when not using it – if you have smart meters you can use your smart energy monitor to check whether you’ve left any devices on standby.”

To help you understand more about your energy consumption or reduce your usage for gaming and other electrics around the home, British Gas’ Smart Energy Experts advise:

  • Turn your gaming console off completely when not in use and don’t leave it on standby which still uses a considerable amount of energy
  • Choose consoles with energy efficient modes if you are keen to reduce the amount of energy your machine uses
  • If you have smart meters, you can also check your smart energy monitor which shows you how much energy is being used in near real-time, in pounds and pence. British Gas customers also can use online interactive reports and apps to monitor how much they are spending on entertainment and receive tips on reducing their energy use
  • To find out more go to




Notes to editors

About British Gas

British Gas is Britain’s leading energy and home services provider, serving around 11 million homes – nearly half the country's homes – as well as providing energy to around half a million British businesses. British Gas provides value for money, dedicated customer service, innovative energy solutions and the highest quality home services expertise in the country. Find out more at

Cebr Research

British Gas has commissioned Cebr to produce research into home energy use. The full report which will cover energy trends and energy efficiency measures will be released next year.


Cost to run per year (including standby)

Watts / Active Hour (excluding standby)

Hourly active operating cost (pence­)

Number of hours per £1 electricity

Xbox One





PlayStation 4





PlayStation 3 (2007)





Xbox 360 (2007)





Desktop PC





Xbox (2001)





PlayStation 2 (2000)





Wii U (2012)





Wii (2006)





GameCube (2000)





PlayStation (1994)





Super Nintendo (1991)





Nintendo 64 (1996)





Sega Mega Drive










Note: Annual figures are higher due to the discrepancies in standby energy demands of a modern day consoles.






For more information contact:

Jennifer Plews
PR manager
01784 878704

British Gas is Britain’s leading energy supplier, and serves around 11 million homes in Britain – nearly half the country’s homes – as well as providing energy to around half a million British businesses. British Gas provides value for money, dedicated customer service, innovative energy solutions and the highest quality Homes Services expertise in the country. Find out more at

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