Without wanting to spark too much debate, climate change is a reality that we are currently facing. While in our day-to-day lives, we’re mostly getting better at saving the environment (through recycling, hybrid cars, and dual-flush toilets), there is still a silent issue that needs addressing: our energy-hogging computers. In anticipation of Green IT week from 1-7 June, Bianca Wirth from ComputersOff talks us through some tips to save energy and money:
Buzzzzzzz. Buzzzzzzz. Buzzzzzzz. Buzzzzzzz. Buzzzzzzz. Buzzzzzzz.
Can you hear that?
It’s silent to the human ear but it’s the cocaine of computing. It’s the hum of electricity twisting its way through computer componentry.
And it’s constant. Day in, day out, there are hundreds of thousands of computers shooting up a buzzzzzzz even when they are not being gamed, spreadsheeted or emailed on.
Quite frankly our computers are addicted. Yet until relatively recently, we didn’t even realise they had developed a habit: the energy use habit.
Computers across the world today are chewing up huge amounts of energy and generating around 2-3% of global carbon emissions. Not only is that bad for the environment, it also costs a fortune. And if you doubt it, then just take a look at the large number of case studies out there – one company I know of (running around 18,000 PCs) saves US$1.2 million in energy costs just through implementing a ‘shut down at night’ policy.
So how can you achieve energy and cost savings? Here are three quick energy saving tips…
Tip 1 – Buy Energy Star computers
Whether you need new laptops or desktops for your home or company, looking for the ENERGY STAR logo on all new equipment will save your company a great deal of energy and money. Though the efficiency of computers has increased over the past few years, so has the power-hunger of programs and online usage.
ENERGY STAR puts their logo on desktops, notebooks/laptops, workstations, small-scale servers, and thin clients. Since a computer can use energy regardless of whether it is in use, these machines must meet energy use guidelines in three operating modes, including standby, sleep mode, and while they are in use. In addition, these computers must meet the energy-saving standards for efficient internal and external power supplies.
The Mac Mini is a great choice because it is not only Energy Star rated, but it is environmentally friendly in a whole host of other ways like reducing environmentally sensitive materials during manufacture and being designed for easier dismantling and recycling at end of life.
Potential Savings by implementing the tip? ENERGY STAR qualified computer equipment must use 30% to 60% less energy than standard models.
Tip 2 – Turn off screensavers
Contrary to popular belief, screensavers don’t save your monitor. Though at one time, CRT monitors were prone to burning out, that is no longer the case. And LCDs certainly don’t have this problem either.
What screensavers do instead of saving your monitor is add to your monthly utility costs. For millions of people, using a screensaver is thought to be a green act, but what they don’t know is that it is actually increasing the energy they use. According to a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, some screensavers could cause your monitor to use between 40 and 100 watts to keep it running. They can also add an additional layer of energy waste by preventing your CPU from going into Standby Mode, further adding to the energy costs of running an individual computer.
Potential Savings by implementing the tip? Consider that an ENERGY STAR monitor uses only 1 watt of power in Standby Mode and then compare that to the 40 to 100 watts potentially used by a monitor with a screensaver. You’ll soon find that the savings speak for themselves.
Tip 3 – Turn off computers when not in use
Phantom power is that which is consumed by electronic appliances while they are not actually in use. This total waste of energy adds up, with nearly 65 billion kWh of electricity spent in this manner every year. Getting more energy-efficient power adapters and powering gadgets and portable electronics with renewable energy (such as solar) are two ways to reduce this waste, but another simple method for cutting electricity loss during idle times is to install power strips.
These low-cost, handy devices allow you to plug several adapters into the same device, which can then be switched off at the end of the day. Some ultra-smart power strips even sense when power is no longer needed, shutting off automatically to cut vampire energy losses.
Potential Savings by implementing the tip? If all phantom power loss was halted, it could potentially save Americans US$5.8 billion annually or the equivalent of 87 billion pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.
Want to know more about Green IT? Attend the online International Green IT Awareness Week Virtual Event from the comfort of your home or office during 1-3 June 2010. Registrations are now open.