I regularly use Skype to keep in touch with my friends and family. Recently I noticed that almost all of my contacts never pickup Skype calls, but then if I ring their phone they answer. This means that their computers are being left on, even though they are not using them.
When you consider that most computers use typically 70-200 Watts of power across the nation the accumulative waste of electricity must be monumental.
Most people would say that that the amount of electricity is minimal – it’s about the same as 2 or 3 light bulbs. The same could be said for other appliances left on standby, such as DVD players, TVs, and phone chargers. I recently heard a report that 2/3 of all the electricity consumed by mobile phones from the chargers being left plugged in 24 hours a day.
It seems crazy that our appliance require so much energy even when they are not doing anything useful. Some would say it is the manufacturers’ fault for not incorporating some sort of intelligent auto power off feature. I personally believe that it is also the consumer’s responsibility to demand these kinds of eco-friendly features in every device.
Although the appliances in our homes do waste electricity when left on standby, it is often only around a few watts. In contrast, an idle computer uses several times the amount. This not only pushes up your electricity bill but also increases carbon emissions which cause global warming.
Is there anything that we can do to reduce this wasted electricity? Almost certainly yes, and it probably won’t require much if any effort on your part. Here are my best energy saving tips:-
Set your computer to Hibernate when you leave your computer for more than 20 minutes.
If you are using Windows XP the setting is in Start>Control Panel>Power Options. Click the Hibernate tab and then check the box to enable the Hibernate feature.
If you are using a laptop, click Power Schemes and make sure you make a note of which power scheme is selected and change this as necessary; I have mine set to “Super Power Saver”. Near the bottom you will see options for “System Hibernates”. Set these to “After 20 minutes” for both plugged in and running on batteries modes.
From now on this means that every time you leave your computer for more than 20 minutes your computer will switch save the state of your machine and switch it off. When you press the power switch, the computer will restore itself exactly the way you left it.
I have a printer, scanner, and amp plugged into my PC. These are only rarely used so I often leave them switched off and unplug their power supplies. This is especially good for scanners since the bulbs are left in a permanently warmed up state if left plugged in; a waste of energy and I reckon it shortens the life of the bulb too.
All the power devices on my computer are plugged into a single 4 way surge protected power strip. This not only protects my expensive hardware from being fried by a lightning strike, it also is a convenient way to turn everything off. Once my computer has shut down I can still see 4 LEDs from all the peripherals – this indicates that they are all draining electricity. By flicking a single switch on the wall this cuts the power to ever single one of them.
Zach Hope is the author of Speed-Up-Windows-XP.com, a site that can teach anybody to speed up Windows to invigorate old computers. You can eliminate slow boot troubles today and transform your slow computer.