Power down PCs for a green pot of gold


Companies are haemorrhaging cash by failing to shut down PCs at night and over weekends, and millions of dollars are at stake, according to recent research by Forrester. Powering down PCs at these times can save a company between US$25 and US$75 per PC over the course of a year. Washington Mutual, General Electric and Dell, which have all done this, claim savings of US$3m, US$2.5m and US$1.8m respectively.

However, it’s not just a case of switching off to save cash. Forrester has identified that various green-leaning activities are bunk. Leaving a PC on in order to lengthen its lifespan - the idea being that there is less stress on the cooling and heating of components - is a myth, according to Doug Washburn, author of the Forrester report ‘How Much Money are Your PCs wasting?’. Screen savers, which have been thought to save energy, actually could have an inverse effect. A graphics heavy screensaver may even increase the amount of power a computer uses.

Washburn also points out that companies are missing a basic trick with their failure to control their PCs’ power usage and more complex efforts, such as focusing on environmentally friendly data centres, while highly valid, don’t offer the quick easy gains that powering down PCs can. According to the Climate Group, PCs account for three times as much power consumption and carbon generation as data centres.

Stewart Baines

I've been writing about technology for nearly 20 years, including editing industry magazines Connect and Communications International. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Anthony Plewes. My focus in Futurity Media is in emerging technologies, social media and future gazing. As a graduate of philosophy & science, I have studied futurology & foresight to the post-grad level.