Energy Savings - Is Your Computer Deleting What's In Your Wallet? Energy Savings - Is Your Computer Deleting What's In Your Wallet?
The computer is a vital source for information, business and personal relationships that most users cannot go a day without. In this age of instant gratification, users don’t want to wait on their web pages to load up either, hence the surge for broadband Internet service. In an effort to have their computer at-the-ready whenever it’s needed, many, if not most computer users leave their computers constantly running. This type of computing habit can end up costing you more than you realize on your electric bill.
Most computers and peripherals sold today have a little blue sticker on them with the Energy Star logo. The Energy Star designation is a program designed by the government to inform consumers about energy efficient products.
Designed in 1992 by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, it was used to identify electrical appliances which adhered to an energy efficient status. The idea behind the program was to reduce the energy usage and potential ozone depleting gas emissions from power plants.
While the Energy Star logo is a start, it’s still up to the consumer to control his or her own energy usage. Even with the efficiency status of the logo, a computer that’s left on is still using unnecessary electricity.
Understanding Your Computer’s Power Management
For PC owners, modern versions of the Microsoft operating systems provide easy to manage power settings. With modes like idle, stand-by and sleep, setting up an energy profile is easy. But first let’s look at the difference between energy modes.
Idle – This is when the computer is left powered on but with no programs other than the operating system running.
Stand-By – This places your computer in a hibernation mode. You will have to press your computer’s power button to bring the computer back up. When in stand-by, the computer is as close to being actually off as it can be. It only uses about 2 watts of power while in stand-by.
Sleep – This condition has your hard drives and your monitor turned off but a simple move of the mouse brings everything awake again.
The new Windows Vista operating system features three pre-set power plans. They include Balanced, Power Saver and High Performance. If it’s a laptop you’re using, then the power scheme you choose will also affect your battery life as well.
Conserving Your Computer’s Energy
Most computer manufacturers agree that you should set your power management profile on your computer to turn your monitor off after 10 minutes of non use. They also advise to configure your hard disks to turn off after 20 minutes of inactivity. While it may be slightly inconvenient to the person who wants to get online to check their e-mail immediately, the savings on your energy bill more than make up for the inconvenience of waiting a few seconds.
If you use a screensaver on your computer, you may think that your computer is using less energy, when in fact, the opposite may be true. Some screensavers require plenty of help from your graphics card in order to run and this extra demand on your video card can be the equivalent of playing a graphically impressive video game. When you see your screensaver on and you can still hear your computer humming like a locomotive, then you know you’re not saving energy! Set your power scheme to go from your screensaver to sleep mode after a certain period of time to help conserve energy.
It was once believed to be better for your computer if it was left on all the time. It was thought that turning it off every night and back on the next morning would wear out components and shorten the life of the computer. We now know that to be untrue. But what we also know is that by turning your computer and all of your peripherals off every night, you can save anywhere from 100 to 400 kWh per computer! If it doesn’t hurt your computer but it does save you money, why not do it?
Another thing to consider when thinking about computer energy conservation, is to look into replacing your big, television-sized monitor with a flat screen model. Flat screen monitors are much more energy efficient and better looking than their boxy predecessors.
With utility costs rising at incredible rates, it makes complete financial sense to save energy where you have the ability to, and that includes configuring your computer’s power settings. Without the constant heat building up from constant running, your computer will last longer and you’ll see the benefits on your next electric bill.