For the average small to midsize office, computers and other electronic equipment comprise a sizable portion of total power consumption. Unfortunately, a portion of this power is often wasted on equipment that is not in use, been left on, and etc. To combat such inefficiencies, we often promote that offices follow best practices to save energy where possible. To this end, we have compiled a list of dos and don’ts for office power management—with specific consideration for desktop computers.
Put your computer in standby or sleep mode when not in-use
Though many would consider this a common-sense item, many users often leave their computers running while they are away from their desks for an extended time. Going into standby mode will allow your computer to quickly restart when you need it to and draws very little power.
Optimize your Windows power management settings
Tucked away in the Control Panel is Windows’ Power Options menu, which can help minimize vampire or phantom power draw. To reach this menu, search for “Power Options” or “Power Management” in the Search dialog box or go to your Control Panel, which is accessible in the Start menu.
The settings available in Power Options will vary depending on whether you have a laptop or desktop computer, but at the bare minimum, you will have the option to choose from several different power plans. These plans are customizable and allow you to automate standby mode timers for your display, hard drives, and computer independently.
Stop using screen savers
Screen savers are a holdover from an older time, when screen burn-in was a concern for CRT monitors. Screen burn-in is when the remnants of a static image become permanent on a CRT monitor. Over time however, monitor technology improved to the point where screen savers became less for function and more for personalization.
Modern LCDs screens are not affected by screen burn-in like CRT monitors and do not require a screen saver. Instead of preventing screen burn-in, screen savers are primarily an unnecessary drain on power. The best tactic for a computer with a LCD monitor is to have the LCD go into standby mode after several minutes of non-use. This can increase the longevity of the LCD as well as save power.
Choose Energy Star equipment
A voluntary program initiated by the EPA in 1992, it is aimed at promoting energy efficiency through products, practices, and services. To that end, equipment that is Energy Star compliant generally draws less power than required by United States government standards. Product lines are tested by third parties to ensure that they reach the requirements for energy efficiency.
Unplug unused peripherals
Photo by Vernon Chan, taken from Flickr Creative Commons
Turn off or unplug peripherals that are rarely used, such as scanners, speakers, and printers. Some components may continue to draw power even with the computer being turned off. This will raise your office’s phantom power draw.
Decrease brightness when not needed
Raising your display’s brightness is sometimes needed—especially in bright environments—but when it is not, lower it to reduce eye strain and save power. If you are using a laptop, you will notice that its battery life may increase significantly.
To the power-conscious professional, promotions for power management devices and accessoriescan be a good time to purchase energy-efficient power management hardware. Devices such as uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) and power distribution units (PDU) are usually targeted for high energy efficiency and can help ensure your electronic equipment receive consistent and stable power. If you have any other power management tactics or suggestions for promoting energy efficiency, please let us know in the comments.Photo by P. Gordon, taken from Flickr Creative Commons