PC owners urged to manage power use and save money

Power management tools can yield annual energy savings of US$25 to $30 per desktop, says energy efficiency group

Businesses and home users can help the environment and save money at the same time by making better use of basic tools for desktop PC power management.

It's a simple message but one that's sometimes hard to get across, especially to home users who don't realize how much electricity their computers waste if they don't take steps to manage consumption, said Mark Bramfitt, head of the consumer energy efficiency group at Pacific Gas & Electric, a California utility.

Power management tools ship with virtually all computers these days but the US Environmental Protection Agency reckons that most home users turn them off within a few months of buying a PC, Bramfitt said.

"There's a tremendous opportunity for energy efficiency and environmental improvements, but influencing individual PC users is a very difficult thing to do," he said at an energy efficiency seminar arranged by the Business Council on Climate Change.

The management tools can yield annual energy savings of US$25 to $30 per desktop computer, according to Bramfitt. For big companies that operate thousands of PCs that quickly adds up to a lot of money.

The tools allow the computer to turn off the processor and hard drive after they have been idle for, say, 15 minutes, and put the whole computer into standby after 30 minutes. That reduces the energy consumed by a PC from roughly 100 watts to 40 watts with the power tools enabled, Bramfitt said.

To enforce power management, companies can use network-based tools that allow the settings on a PC to be controlled centrally. PG&E and other utilities give rebates to companies that use these tools because it helps them to avoid having to construct new power plants.

The tools, from companies like Faronics, Scriplogic and Veridiem, range in price from US$15 to $20 per computer, said Alena Gilchrist [cq], a senior project manager with the City of San Francisco's SF Environment group. PG&E will subsidize the cost to the tune of US$15 per PC for businesses, and the City of San Francisco gives slightly more.

PC makers could do more to help. Around half of the energy PCs consume is sucked up by inefficient power supplies, Bramfitt said. More efficient supplies are available but cost about US$20, compared to $5 for the cheap ones, so PC makers don't use them.

Much of the wasted energy pours out as heat, which adds to air conditioning bills. "The PC that sits under your desk at home or in the office kinda looks like a toaster to PG&E," he said. "Half the energy that goes into it comes out as heat."

The PC vendors are taking some steps. Many of them last year joined the Climate Savers Computing Initiative, which aims to cut power consumption by computers in half by 2010, in part by using 90 per cent efficient power supplies.

There are also free tools for optimizing PC power settings, including LocalCooling from Uniblue Research Labs.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

James Niccolai

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?