What's worse for the environment than an air conditioner? Your goddamn cable box, that's what. Watching TV these days is basically like doing whippets around a styrofoam bonfire in Yellowstone National Park. From the Times:

One high-definition DVR and one high-definition cable box use an average of 446 kilowatt hours a year, about 10 percent more than a 21-cubic-foot energy-efficient refrigerator, a recent study found.

These set-top boxes are energy hogs mostly because their drives, tuners and other components are generally running full tilt, or nearly so, 24 hours a day, even when not in active use. The recent study, by the Natural Resources Defense Council, concluded that the boxes consumed $3 billion in electricity per year in the United States - and that 66 percent of that power is wasted when no one is watching and shows are not being recorded. That is more power than the state of Maryland uses over 12 months.

Feel like an asshole yet? Well, it gets worse. Of course the Europeans are better than us:

Similar devices in some European countries, for example, can automatically go into standby mode when not in use, cutting power drawn by half. They can also go into an optional "deep sleep," which can reduce energy consumption by about 95 percent compared with when the machine is active.

But at least you haven't missed an episode of Hawaii Five-0, right?

[Images via Shutterstock]