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green desktop energy efficient computerSorry Kermit, but you were wrong: it is easy being green. Well, maybe it isn’t so easy if you’re a frog, but it is if you’re a human and are looking to reduce the environmental impact of your computer ownership.

We’ve touched on several ways to be environmentally friendly:

How To Calculate Your Ecological Footprint Before The Earth Day How To Calculate Your Ecological Footprint Before The Earth Day How To Calculate Your Ecological Footprint Before The Earth Day Read More
5 Sites And Tips on How to Go Green and Save Money 5 Sites and Tips on How to Go Green and Save Money 5 Sites and Tips on How to Go Green and Save Money Read More
How To Save Printer Ink & Make It Last Longer How To Save Printer Ink & Make It Last Longer How To Save Printer Ink & Make It Last Longer Read More
5 Ways To Reduce The Power Consumption Of Your Computer 5 Ways To Reduce The Power Consumption Of Your Computer 5 Ways To Reduce The Power Consumption Of Your Computer Read More

But ultimately, here are the top five ways to make a difference.

When not in use, turn off the juice

Yup, the easiest way to save energy is to simply turn your computer off when it’s not being used, and the savings from doing so can be substantial. According to ComputersOff.ORG, simply turning your computer off at night or when it’s not being used can save as much energy as it takes: 

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  • to run a clock radio for 1,392 weeks
  • to make 9,280 bags of microwave popcorn
  • to wash 464 loads of washing
  • to use your blow dryer for 5,568 hours
  • to vacuum for 464 hours
  • to produce 3,480 plastic bags
  • to run your microwave 24 hours a day for a week
  • to boil your kettle for 24 hours a day for 268 days 

It’s worth noting that in recent years it’s possible to buy a very green desktop energy efficient computer, if you have a newer system and use it with the power management features enabled (see below), your savings will probably be smaller. But every little helps, right? 

Before moving on, let’s dispel a frequently heard myth: namely that turning your computer on and off regularly will cause it to wear out more quickly. This is not the case. Today’s computers are designed to last through in excess of 40,000 on/off cycles and, even if you turn your computer on and off several times a day, it’s unlikely that you’ll reach anywhere close to that number of cycles before your computer is retired.

Use power management 

If you really can’t bear to completely switch off, then using power management options to put your computer into an energy-saving sleep mode when it’s not being used is the next best thing and will save almost as much electricity. When operating normally, a computer and LCD monitor will use between 100 and 300 watts of electricity – but this reduces to only 1 to 6 watts in sleep mode. Climate Savers Computing provide some recommended power management settings and instructions on how to configure those settings.

green desktop energy efficient computer

Extend the life of your current computer

If every computer was to remain in use for, say, an extra 12 months, then substantially fewer computers would need to be produced and substantially fewer resources would be used in manufacturing, packaging and shipping. Consequently, the longer you can delay the retirement of your computer, the better it is for the environment. There are a couple of ways you can do this, this first and easiest of which is to simply keep on using your current computer for longer. Add some RAM, a bigger hard disk or a better graphics card – get as much mileage out of your computer as you can before replacing it. 

The second way to prolong the life of your computer is to make sure that it’s reused rather than scrapped. While it may not have enough horsepower to enable you to play to latest games, your old computer would almost certainly be appreciated by somebody who only wants to browse the web and email. So, sell it, or give it to a needy friend or relative, or use Google to find a local donation scheme – just don’t put it out with the garbage! Hint: before parting with your old computer, be sure to wipe the data (How To Completely & Securely Erase Your Hard Drive How To Completely & Securely Erase Your Hard Drive How To Completely & Securely Erase Your Hard Drive Read More ). 

Print smart

It takes resources to manufacture ink, ink cartridges and paper, so it makes sense to think about what and when you print.

green desktop energy efficient computer

There are a number of ways that you can print smarter: 

  • Don’t print! Think before you print and only print what really needs to be printed. Do you really need a hard copy of that forwarded email joke? Reducing the amount that you print will save energy, ink, paper and may even help extend the life of your printer.
  • Print on both sides of the paper.  This can cut your paper consumption by as much as 50% and, as an added bonus, you’ll use also less energy too when printing double-sided (according to the U.S. Department of Energy, the saving in energy costs may amount to as much as $170 during the life of the printer). If you need to print a substantial amount on a regular basis, consider buying a printer that supports automatic double-sided printing as this will avoid the need for manual-feeding (which is fine if you only print something once in a while, but not so fine if you print multiple times per day).
  • Cut out waste. Blank pages and unnecessary text in print jobs can result in a substantial amount of wasted ink and paper. A solution such as GreenPrint will enable you to print only what needs to be printed – blank pages and unnecessary text such as web addresses are automatically eliminated – reducing the amount of ink and paper that you’ll use. GreenPrint comes in free and paid versions.

Buy an ENERGY STAR rated computer 

“If all computers sold in the United States meet the ENERGY STAR requirements, the savings in energy costs will grow to more than $2 billion each year and greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by the equivalent of greenhouse gas emissions from nearly 3 million vehicles.” So says ENERGY STAR – a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy that labels products that meet a minimum set of energy-efficiency standards. Choosing a computer that has the ENERGY STAR label and using it with the recommended power management settings will enable you to keep electricity use to a minimum. 

So, being green really is quite easy. And the best part about it is that you’ll not only be doing your bit to help the environment, you’ll also be keeping your electricity bill down – and saving money is something we all like to do, right? 

Do you have any computer energy-saving tips? Let us know in the comments section below!

Image credit: Looking Glass, marsi

  1. Sarah
    June 1, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    To select computers that are greener by design, check the EPEAT registry - http://www.epeat.net. All listed computers must meet 23 required criteria that address toxics reduction, recycled content, design for end of life, energy efficiency, extension of useful life, end of life management and packaging. Then they compete for higher ratings (Gold, Silver) by meeting increasing percentages of 28 optional criteria that also cover all these stages of the products' life. EPEAT is the US government's requirement for environmentally preferable computer equipment - and offers you a way to ensure the manufactyurers' 'green' claims are validated! The more consumer choose green,teh more products manufacturers will make available, so select EPEAT registered porducts and communicate with your purchasing dollars.

  2. Sarah
    June 1, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    To select computers that are greener by design, check the EPEAT registry - http://www.epeat.net. All listed computers must meet 23 required criteria that address toxics reduction, recycled content, design for end of life, energy efficiency, extension of useful life, end of life management and packaging. Then they compete for higher ratings (Gold, Silver) by meeting increasing percentages of 28 optional criteria that also cover all these stages of the products' life. EPEAT is the US government's requirement for environmentally preferable computer equipment - and offers you a way to ensure the manufactyurers' 'green' claims are validated! The more consumer choose green,teh more products manufacturers will make available, so select EPEAT registered porducts and communicate with your purchasing dollars.

  3. Kervin Vergara
    May 28, 2010 at 5:02 am

    There is nothing better than thinking about the benefit our planet Earth. Where I live, we have felt in these last days a lot of heat, high temperature, unfortunately global warming affects us all. MakeUseOf to thank you very much for your advice to help our planet. Successes.

  4. Guest
    May 27, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    Use MonitorES to save monitor energy by turning them off.

  5. rif
    May 27, 2010 at 8:51 am

    You could swap your power supply for an 80 Plus certified power supply. Also, remove any unused components could also save some power. For example, if you have several hard drives or optical drives, disconnect ones that are seldom used or not used at all.

  6. bobeyuno
    May 26, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    use a piece of free software called Granola, it reduces the computers power when not needed to save power. Also a little gadget can be displayed showing exactly how much power you have saved.
    http://download.cnet.com/Grano...

  7. Anonymous
    May 26, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    use a piece of free software called Granola, it reduces the computers power when not needed to save power. Also a little gadget can be displayed showing exactly how much power you have saved.
    http://download.cnet.com/Granola/3000-2094_4-75182521.html

    • Brett Callow
      May 26, 2010 at 8:07 pm

      Thanks for that, bobeyuno. Granola is new to me. I'l be sure to check it out.

  8. Nat Jay
    May 26, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    One thing I'd like to comment on is giving away gadgets once they've run their term. You could give them away to the lesser privileged, or even to your local electronics school. The students there might have use for any components that are still working.

    • Brett Callow
      May 26, 2010 at 7:54 pm

      Ineed! Donation is a great way to help other people and the environment too. Thanks for the comment!

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