Environmentally Friendly Computing

Home These days climate change and global warming is getting so much attention in the media. The burning of fossil fuels is one of the major causes of greenhouse gas there has been a lot people have been told to reduce energy use to help make a difference. There is an endless supply of messages in the media extolling the virtues of programmable thermostats and compact florescent light bulbs. Most don’t consider their computers to be energy hogs, but there are many things the can done to make computers more efficient.

Firstly if you are still staring at an old CRT monitor when you are using your computer then you need to upgrade an LCD monitor. Typical CRT monitors consume 100 – 250 watts while LCD monitors use a considerable amount less power 20 – 50 watts. Those using a dual monitor setup with two CRT monitors will see even greater savings when replacing with a widescreen LCD. This would reduce energy use by 90 percent.

Most external devices such as scanners, printers don’t get used all the time but many users leave them on all the time. Turning these devices off when they are not in use will reduce electrical use about 30 watts. External devices that use power adapters use a few watts of electricity even when turned off. Using a surge protected power bar with a power switch to remove the supply of power to these devices is the only way to make sure that they are not consuming electricity when not in use.

Unused internal components consume power and removing them is worth considering. Most people haven’t used dial up connections in years but many computers have dial up modems installed. Removing the modem will save a couple of watts. Many computers have separate DVD-ROM and CD burners installed in them. Replace both drives with a DVD burner, and a few more watts can be saved.

Computers have had power saving features for the past decade but there is a large number of people unwilling to use them. Advanced power management technology was developed in the mid 1990’s for laptop computer users in the days before lithium ion batteries to get more than an hour of computer usage when away from a power outlet. Years ago advance power management was somewhat unstable. A computer that was put to sleep would often not wake up. Like most other features within Windows Advanced power management has improved. Hard drives and monitors that shut off when the computer hasn’t been touched in a while will come back when someone wants to use their computer again.

For anybody who is looking to replace their current computer consider replacing a desktop PC with a laptop. People who play intense games or those into video editing may not consider this to be an option because they need the extra computational ability and upgradeability of desktop PCs. But for the majority of home PC users that don’t need all the power and speed that a gaming or video editing PC requires then a laptop computer is a much more energy efficient alternative to a desktop PC. The average 5 year old PC and CRT monitor could be using up to 800 watts of power. Switching to a laptop even if it is used on a desk and never moved will bring the power usage to about 70 watts.

Making these changes may only be a small amount in reducing green house gas, but the effect is cumulative it will take many, many people doing what they can to change the way they use their computers to start to make a difference, but even with all the small changes to how we live it makes a difference. Even if the environment isn’t a major concern for you, doing a couple of things I have suggested will help knock a few cents off your power bill. Even if the cost savings are small over time it builds.

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