There is a lot of interest in environmental responsibility these days: debates on global warming, hybrid cars, recycling, buying environmentally friendly products, conserving energy, reducing waste, etc., etc. Additionally, there has been a growing area of discussion on the subject of “green computing.” What exactly is green computing? Mostly, it’s the practice of using computing resources efficiently. With today’s powerful systems, not to mention the myriads of peripheral devices, the home office is an area of the house where energy is wasted and lost. If you’re interested in ways to reduce your power consumption, here are ways you can go “green” at home:
1. Buy “Energy Star” labeled monitors, desktops, laptops, and printers . The “Energy Star” devices can be programmed to “power-down” to a low power state when they are not in use, helping you save energy and run cooler which helps them last even longer. The Energy Star specification for computers was revised on October 20, 2006 and goes into effect July 20, 2007. The specification includes new performance requirements to qualify for the Energy Star rating for desktop and notebook computers, workstations, integrated computers, desktop-derived servers and game consoles. Now you can feel good about that upgrade!
2. Put laptops in “sleep” mode when not in use. The EPA has estimated that this 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.
3. Even better, turn OFF computers and other equipment when not in use. Despite the debate over whether it’s better for your computer to be left on or shut off, the fact is it’s better for the environment to shut it off. Trust me, your computer can handle it just fine; in fact, computers were designed to be turned off and back on!
4. E-cycle used computer equipment. Find a recycler in your area. Also, Staples, the office supply retailer, has now started a recycling program. They will accept any brands of used desktop and notebook computers, monitors, printers, fax machines and all-in-one devices with a fee of $10. Smaller items like keyboards, mice and speakers are free to drop off.
5. Buy the new “Smart Strip” power strip. The Smart Strip actually senses how much power your computer peripherals use. And when the Smart Strip senses that you’ve turned your computer off, it automatically shuts off your peripherals, too, preventing them from drawing an idle current, which is the current drawn even after equipment is shut off.
Speaking of going green, yesterday was the huge Live Earth event, a series of worldwide concerts to raise awareness about the global climate crisis. You can catch up on what you missed over at the Live Earth website, where they feature streaming videos from the concerts, photos, news, and more information about going green.