Thursday, January 8, 2009

Go Green with Your Computer

Shutdown Your Computer Without Losing the Perks of an Always-On PC

Obviously, computers require electricity to run, so shutting down, sleeping, or hibernating your computer when you're not using it conserves energy. Every modern operating system has its own settings for conserving power, so the first thing you should do—if you haven't already—is open the power settings of your computer and set them for optimal energy use. Set your computer to put your monitor to sleep, spin down your hard drives, and put your computer to sleep when you're not using it. Even better, since your computer uses less power when hibernating than when sleeping, set up your computer to hibernate rather than just go to sleep.

One of the biggest turn-offs (no pun intended) about shutting down or sleeping your computer is that you miss out on some of the finer things your computer provides even when you're away. For example, if you're downloading a large file, you may want the download to continue even when you're away. Likewise, we've covered tons of ways to remotely access your computer, all of which no longer work if your computer's turned off. Luckily you can continue using your computer during these times but still conserve power the rest of the time.

Save Paper when Printing

When it comes to the environment, one of the first places most offices can improve is the giant pile of discarded paper by the network printer. Aside from obvious things you can do on your own—like printing duplex, printing to PDF, previewing before printing, and not printing hundreds of copies of an email forward to plaster around the office—there are a few other tools you can use to minimize wasting paper and ink when printing.

Turn Off Peripherals to Kill the Vampires

Now that you've put good energy practices into use on your PC, it's time to move onto the power-hungry peripherals you've got plugged into it. Whenever possible, you want to turn off any peripheral when you're not using it—like your printer or monitor. Likewise, you should be aware of any gear in your computing setup that draws standby power (a.k.a., vampire power) even when you've turned off the device in question. Vampires commonly stand out as large, unsightly AC adapters.

While you could diligently unplug your wall warts or keep them plugged into a power strip that you switch off when they're not in use, you can go even further and automate the process with gadgets like the Energy Saving Smart Strip (original post) and the Power Minder (original post), both of which monitor your PC's power state and automatically shut down other peripherals when you turn off your computer.