Way back in August of 2008 we posted this myth-busting article on computer energy saving. Now I want to take a look at a few new habits we can begin which are both eco-friendly and computer hardware friendly.
Utilize Windows’ Power Saving Options
Screensavers have no impact, or a negative impact on power saving. Instead, have Windows turn off your monitor after 10 or 20 minutes of non-use. Have your hard drives turn off after 30 or so minutes. You can access these features by clicking your “Start” button, then “Control Panel” then “Power Options.”
It used to be popular (I don’t know why, exactly) to have computers running all the time — there was some kind of fetishization of the “always-on” experience. Thankfully, that seems to have left us behind.
Alternatives to Shutting Down Computer
If you’re away from your computer for a while but don’t want to go through the whole shutdown and startup process, experiment with “Standby” and/or “Hibernation.” Standby is a low power state which resumes quickly when you need it to and hibernation is an even greater reduced power state which takes a while longer to resume but far less time than a full re-boot.
If you’re using a Mac, the equivalent is “Sleep”.
For Laptop Users
Most laptops have convenient hotkeys for switching off systems or hardware. For instance, when not needed you can turn off the wi-fi antenna or you can dim the display, which will be a benefit to lower energy consumption.
Corporate IT Environment
If you’re in a corporate setting you may not be allowed to turn your computer off at the end of the day. As we talked about above — what this says about corporate and government energy consumption is for you to dwell on. If this is your case, make sure to turn off speakers, monitors and any other peripherals at the end of your workday, and speak to someone about it — it’s crazy that entire office floors are still left running, all night. Avoiding technical headaches isn’t worth that kind of energy consumption.
If mucking around in your Windows OS is out of the question for you, take a look at this solution called the Ecobutton. This is a big, bold button you attache to your computer via a USB port. If you need to do a non-computer activity for a while, just press the Ecobutton and it automatically adjusts your computer to an energy efficient state.
With a few adjustments you can reduce the consumption of electricity from your personal computer. Finally, go take a look at the Energy Star site for some more helpful information on personal computer power management. It’s one of those behaviors that seems small when isolated — but if the majority of us adopted it, the results would be huge.