If you think your electric bill reflects just the energy you use every day, think again. Energy costs have soared in the past few years, and a lot of this energy is wasted by things like DVR recorders, computers without automatic sleep, and game consoles like Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

The most effective way to trim your electric bill? Turn these systems off. Completely. 68% of game console energy consumed happened while the systems were in idle mode, the mode where the system is always ready for you to wave a controller to turn it on. The amount consumed in idle mode equaled 10.8 TWh of energy, or about $1.2 billion in electricity costs across the country – meaning that 1% of all electricity consumed was because of game systems. This is an increase of over 50% from the last recorded data set from three years ago. The stats for computer consumption is reasonably worse, taking a very close second to idle game systems.

Despite the high costs, the solution is more intuitive and simple that it should be: simply incorporate a default auto power down feature. This could “reduce electricity consumption of game consoles by 75%, saving consumers over $1 billion annually in electricity bills,” say the authors of the study conducted about game console and computer energy use. The usage of electricity by consoles and computers alike has gradually risen through the “eras” of consoles – from Nintendo 64 all the way up to present day technology, even though less units have been sold as the consoles grew to be more expensive.

Many systems that are older don’t have these features, unfortunately, and there’s no way to incorporate them either, other than to hook up a power strip that’s on a timer to the system. However, newer systems such as Xbox 360 are already trying to take steps in the right direction by offering an auto-standby feature that puts the console into standby when it’s idle for more than an hour. This is much better than leaving the system on and the feature cannot be turned off under regular circumstances. Even though the system is not completely off, when the Xbox is in standby mode, it consumes, quite literally, 1% of the energy it would consume if it were in idle.

PlayStation 3 is also considering a similar program, and has already provided the proper update to the console that does allow the user to manage their power usage – but it’s not automatic, and people still need to opt in to use it.

Computers can almost always be set to autosleep when left alone for a particular amount of time, and it can be turned off whenever necessary. So if you’re looking to save on your energy bill, hit the off button or unplug your electronics whenever you possibly can.