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What Can Be Done to Make Computers More Efficient?

By Bob Schildgen

Hey Mr. Green,

Q: I've read that we waste a lot of energy with computers. How much do we waste, and what can be done to make things more efficient?

—Samuel, Denver, CO

A: The EPA has updated computer standards on a regular basis for the past 25 years, and each revision has marked a reduction in power consumption. The increasing use of laptops and other smaller devices, which need a lot less power than desktop models, has helped limit total energy consumption. Nevertheless, the EPA says we still waste at least a billion dollars worth of electrical power a year simply by running less-efficient computer equipment. This waste reaches the equivalent of around 15 billion pounds of annual greenhouse gas emissions, or as much as 1.4 million motor vehicles. But the total waste may be actually much greater.


Simply by activating power management on your computer you can save anywhere from $10 to $100 a year. For instructions on how to do this, visit the EPA's "Activate Power Management on Your Computer" page or ask your service vendor to make sure your machines are configured to take full advantage of these sleep features. Also, deploy "smart" power strips that cut off power when you're not using other devices connected to your network.

Consolidate printers: You can eliminate printers, share work-group printers, and use multi-function devices instead of individual printers, copiers, fax machines and scanners. If you still have non-networked printers or make wide use of stand-alone copiers, fax machines and scanners, printer consolidation could save a bundle: between 30 and 40 percent or more.

Reposted with permission from our media associate SIERRA Magazine.

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