Power Settings and Power Savings

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If you use a computer at work (like I do), double-check your power settings. On a Mac, you can do so by selecting "system preferences" from the apple icon menu at the top left. On a PC, go into the control panel. If you're running Linux I presume you already know what you're doing (and it varies from distro to distro. Call upon your local open source forum for help.)

Setting your computer to standby after it's been idle for a few minutes will save energy when you're away from your desk and, as an added benefit, it may startle you out of a daydream if you're zoning out at your desk. 

The energy savings are impressive.  By setting my computer to "sleep" after five minutes of being idle, and putting it to sleep before leaving for the night, I used about 30 percent less energy during the day (from 0.45 kWh to 0.32 kWh)  and halved my computer's energy use during the night (from 0.08kWh to 0.04 kWh).

I know, I know, why should my computer use any power at all at night? Well, I don't turn off the computer at night because I hate waiting for the system to boot in the morning. It's embarrassing to admit, but I started the habit back when I had an older computer that took a significant amount of time to start from being off.  Now that I have a faster computer, I'll nix the old habit (starting now).  (The Department of Energy suggests that you should turn off your computer if you're going to leave it for two hours, but turning it off even if you're only leaving for an hour is probably a good idea.)

In fact, you might want to unplug it altogether. Most computers, like many other appliances, use power to stay in a "ready" mode, even when they aren't on.  This is what people are talking about when they refer to a "phantom load."  The amount of power used by your computer when it's off but plugged in is small.  We're talking watts, not kilowatts. 

The folks over at the Lawrence Berkley National Lab drew up this chart of the phantom load (expressed in Watts) used by some common appliances:

Chart of standby power use.
 "Count" is the number of appliances of each type that they tested.     Click for more            

I've seen a few studies and articles that talk about re-engineering household electronics to use less than one watt while in standby mode, but in the meantime pulling the plug on your idle appliances is the only way to reduce the waste. 

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4 Comments

Just set my computer to shut off at 11pm and wake up at 8am. Good idea.

Really, I appreciate the concern which is been rose. The things need to be sorted out because it is about the individual but it can be with everyone.The above thought is smart and doesn’t require any further addition. It’s perfect thought from my side.
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Savings Accounts

Really, I appreciate the concern which is been rose. The things need to be sorted out because it is about the individual but it can be with everyone.The above thought is smart and doesn’t require any further addition. It’s perfect thought from my side.
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Savings Accounts

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About Powering Down

This page contains a single entry by Rachel VanCott published on January 22, 2009 12:49 PM.

These Come From Trees was the previous entry in this blog.

A Carbon Count on Orange Juice is the next entry in this blog.

Check back daily and follow my attempt to measure and reduce my energy use.

July 2010

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