Thursday, December 6, 2007

5 Easy Steps to Green Computing

You can’t pick up the newspaper, turn on the television, or surf the Internet, without being bombarded by hot topics such as global warming, rising greenhouse gas emissions and the world’s energy crisis. You’re doing your part to help out by recycling and carpooling, but did you know that one of the most effective ways to improve energy management, increase energy efficiency and reduce waste starts with your computer?

According to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), computers account for a relatively large portion of our electrical consumption—about 2% nationwide. The growing use of computers has caused a dramatic increase in energy consumption, which puts negative pressure on the environment. Each year consumers (and businesses) purchase more computers and put to them to use, but it’s not just the sheer number of computers that is driving energy consumption upward. The way that we use computers also adds to the increasing energy burden.

By adopting conservation practices and changing the way you use your computer, you can help make a difference in the environment – and your own wallet. If you’re ready to take the green computing initiative, here are a few simple tips to get you started.

Buy "Energy Star" compliant peripherals
Before you buy, check with the manufacturer or on the Energy Star web site.

Enable power management features
Thanks to the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA), personal computer systems purchased today can be easy on energy. These “Energy Star” computers and monitors can be programmed to automatically “power-down” to a low power state when they are not being used. These efficiency gains can be achieved without any sacrifice in computing performance.

The EPA has estimated that providing computers with “sleep mode” reduces their energy use by 60 to 70 percent – and ultimately could save enough electricity each year to power Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, cut electric bills by $2 billion, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by the equivalent of 5 million cars.

Follow these simple steps to access computer and monitor power management features for Windows.
1. First check to see that your monitor is Energy Star compliant (see above)
2. Open 'Display' in the Control Panel, go to the 'Settings' tab, click on 'Advanced Properties' and choose the 'Monitor' tab
3. Check 'Monitor is Energy Star compliant' box click 'OK'.

The recommended settings are 20 minutes for monitor sleep and 30 minutes for system sleep. Remember that to save energy with your monitor’s built-in power management system, your monitor must go to sleep (shut itself down).

Turn off the screen saver
If screen saver images appear on your monitor for more than 5 minutes, you are wasting energy! Screen saver programs may save the phosphors in your monitor screen, but this is not really a concern with newer monitors, especially LCD screens. And they certainly don’t save energy.

A screen saver that displays moving images causes your monitor to consume as much as electricity as it does when in active use. These screen saver programs also involve system interaction with your CPU that results in additional energy consumption. A blank screen saver is slightly better but even that only reduces monitor energy consumption by a few percent.

When not in use, turn off the juice
Research reveals that most personal desktop computers are not being used the majority of the time they are running and many personal computers nationwide are needlessly left on continuously. Every time we leave computers or lights on we waste electricity. Burning fossil fuels generates most of our electricity and it also emits pollutants, sulfur, and carbon dioxide into the air. These emissions can cause respiratory disease, smog, acid rain and global climate change.

Consider doing the following:
o Turn off your computer and/or peripherals when they are not in use. Turning them on and off will not harm the equipment.
o Don’t run computers continuously unless they are in use continuously.
o Turn off computers and peripherals at night.
o Look for ways to reduce the amount of time your computer is on without adversely affecting your productivity.
o Unless you require immediate access to e-mail or other Internet services, break the habit of turning on all your computer equipment as soon as you enter the office each day.
o If practical, informally group your computer activities and try to do then during one or two parts of the day, leaving the computer off at other times.
o Avoid using the switch on a powerstrip to turn on all your equipment.
o If you use a laser printer, don’t turn your printer on until you are ready to print.
o Turn off your entire computer system (CPU, monitor and printer) or at least your monitor and printer when if you are going to be away from the computer for a little while.
Take proper care of your laptop batteries and dispose of them carefully
Follow the guidelines in your laptop manual, such as removing the AC adapter when fully charged, or totally discharging before recharging, to maximize the working life of a laptop battery. Many types of rechargeable batteries contain potentially toxic materials such as Cadmium, so dispose of them properly and carefully.

Don't throw your old computer away
Globally over 35 million PC's are thrown away ever year - yet there are many companies now recycling or reconditioning components or whole computers. Don't throw it away. Your old computer might be worth something either to a dealer, a local school or a charity.

About the Author
Vishal Dhar is CEO of iYogi, a next-generation computer support services company, headquartered in Gurgaon, India with offices in New York, NY. iYogi offers personalized computer support for small business and home office users. The company offers 24/7 phone and online assistance for technologies we use every day and supports products from a wide range of vendors. Utilizing proprietary technology, iMantra, and superior team talent, iYogi delivers higher resolution benchmarks and service levels than competing support services. iYogi recently launched a Green PC initiative, which is the first service in the independent computer support industry to offer customers a way to save money, conserve energy and protect the environment by optimizing their PC’s efficiency. For more information and a detailed list of supported technologies, visit: