Did you know that your video game habit is an energy hog? The costs aren’t limited to the price of your console and games – the Xbox One and other gaming systems actually draw a large amount of electricity. In response to criticism about how much power the Xbox consumes, Microsoft is reaching out to help consumers cut down on their product's energy profile with one small change that could save gamers $250 million per year.

Power-Guzzling Standby Mode

The big problem with the Xbox comes during its standby mode. By design, the system is never actually off, which provides gamers with two major benefits: They can start it up instantly with no load time, and the device downloads updates in the background when the console isn't being used, so you never have to sit around waiting for that annoying status bar to finish loading.

Unfortunately, the “instant-on” feature uses a shocking amount of electricity – up to 40 percent of the total consumed by the Xbox, according to the National Resources Defense Council.

“While the device is reasonably efficient when playing a game, that is more than offset by its power-guzzling ‘Instant On’ standby mode that is enabled by default,” Noah Horowitz wrote on the NRDC blog.

Last year, the NRDC released a study which found that the energy consumed nationwide by the three most popular consoles – PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo's Wii U – reaches as much as 11 billion kilowatt-hours annually, enough to power Houston, Texas for a year.

Microsoft Responds

The criticism must have stung, because Microsoft is now making an extra effort to remind gamers of the console's energy saving mode, which does not have the same features as instant-on but can save consumers $6 to $15 per year. With 7 million consoles and counting in the U.S., that adds up in a big way.

"While we believe Instant-on provides the best experience for our fans, we also believe in providing consumer choice which is why we offered the ‘Energy-saving’ mode," Microsoft wrote in a recent blog post. “By providing multiple power states in Xbox One and empowering our fans with choice, we sought to balance energy efficiency and functionality. At the same time, we know many Xbox One fans are vigilant about their household’s energy consumption; after all, environmental leadership often begins at home.”

The company also previously made changes to reduce power consumption during instant-on mode by one third.

Look for Energy Savings

To change your Xbox so it uses the energy saving option, look in the “power & start up” menu under settings. Fifteen dollars might not sound like a lot, but with so many Xbox fans, the energy savings really add up.

If you really want to go the extra mile with your Xbox and other electronics, just unplug them when you aren't using them. That gets around the matter of stand-by mode altogether and can help you save a decent chunk of change by avoiding energy vampires.