Top 5 Methods to Make IT Greener and More Efficient

When using IT appliances, and any home appliances for that matter, you will be building up the amount of watts they all use every day. Each day becomes a week.

Each week becomes a year. As you can imagine, constant use can equate to a high energy consumption.

Top 5 Methods to Make IT Greener and More Efficient

The good news is that the amount of watts your home appliances use are nothing in comparison to things such as air conditioning systems. However, your IT use can still use up quite a lot of energy.

Even for someone who uses their PC and monitor for around four or so hours a day on average, that can come to approximately 400 kilowatt-hours every year.

Of course, with so many of us working from home or in office environments, computers are being used for more than four hours a day. Therefore, these numbers only get higher and higher. 

With the number of people working from home rising every year, the energy use from IT becomes more significant, along with the greenhouse gas emissions that accompany it.

In these cases, you can expect an individual to use around 800 kWh every year. Startling statistics.

This isn’t the same for every computer user, however. Many modern computers are highly efficient, and can cut energy consumption by up to 70%.

But, by practicing green IT habits, this energy use can be cut even further. This is why it is beneficial for us and our planet to try and make our IT use greener and more efficient.

Not only can this save our planet in the long run, but it can save you money on energy bills.

You may think it’s not possible but you can go green with your IT use. Just by adjusting some settings and the way you operate your computer and other devices, you can cut down on your energy consumption and become far more efficient.

And, this all leads to one goal – becoming more environmentally friendly.

Today, we are going to guide you through different methods to make IT greener and more efficient. We will discuss various steps that you can start today, some of which will cost absolutely nothing.

So, if you want to save our planet’s beautiful wildlife and save yourself some money on your energy bills, continue reading. 

Top 5 Methods to Make IT Greener and More Efficient (2)

Make IT Greener With These 5 Methods

Turning Off 

This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised by how much energy you can save, just by switching off your IT equipment, rather than leaving it on standby for hours on end. 

Ask yourself, “how often do I just leave my TV on or even on standby overnight?” “Do I just leave my clothes dryer on at all times?” It’s pretty simple – if you’re not using it, turn it off. The same goes for your IT equipment.

Yes, you can set your PC to switch to sleep mode after a while of not using it, and this will decrease the energy use. But, by switching it off completely, you will use significantly less energy.

Over time, your savings will start to build thanks to these little changes. 

If you’re going to be away from your PC for at least 20 minutes, you should switch off the monitor.

If you think you won’t use it for at least two hours, simply turn off the CPU. Not only does turning off your PC and monitor save energy, it can also prevent it from heating up.

Therefore, the cooling components inside the PC will not need to work overtime, saving kWh on air conditioning, too. 

We understand that switching off your desktop computer is not always the best option. Maybe you’ll need to access it remotely, or you’re downloading something important.

In these cases, you may have no option but to leave it on for a few hours. That being said, there are some steps you can take to ensure your PC is using its power saving features. An example would be using an application called Wake-On-LAN.

This allows you to control the power of your PC remotely. Another method is to use uTorrent. This client of BitTorrent turns off your computer once a download has completed, saving energy and costs

If you’re shutting off all of your IT equipment, you can even go a step further. You can plug all IT components into a power strip and then unplug it completely overnight, or when not in use for a few hours.

This will prevent the phantom power draw from occurring, resulting in more efficiency. 

These may seem like simple steps, but it’s all about getting into a habit. Build this habit up and you can make your IT use greener and more efficient.

Keep an Eye on your Settings

Here’s another simple, yet highly effective method of making IT greener. All you need to do is check your computer’s settings. By turning on your PC’s power-saving features, you may be able to cut back on its energy use by a whopping 50 percent, or even more. 

The good news is that most modern PCs come with built-in power-saving features. The only issue is that you usually need to activate these settings yourself, as many computers are shipped without these modes activated.

But, all it takes is a minute or so and you can save yourself energy and money. 

If your computer does not have power-saving modes, it may be time to buy a new PC. However, this isn’t the only option. In such computers, you have two simple options – turn on and turn off.

When the computer is on, it will consume its maximum number of watts. When off, it uses hardly any, or none whatsoever.

For PCs with energy efficient modes, there are additional features, as well as on and off. You can activate a sleep mode, a hibernate mode, and on many computers, a feature to dim or turn off the display.

This last feature saves a lot of energy, as the display is what typically uses up the most energy. 

Whatever mode you choose, all you need to do to start using your computer again is to press a key on your keyboard. This will activate the PC, ready for immediate use. This is quicker than waiting for the whole computer to boot up again. 

The entire process is simple. All you have to do is decide the length of time you want your PC to wait until the low-power mode is activated after no activity has occurred.

For users who sit at their desks without actually using their computer for a period of time, a sleep mode should be activated after around 20 minutes.

But, if you rarely leave your computer idle for long, you could save energy by setting the sleep activation for around four or five minutes. 

These energy settings can usually be located through a computer’s control panel, but this may vary with some computer models. After you have changed the settings, it will typically take around 30 seconds or so for any changes to finalize. 

Top 5 Methods to Make IT Greener and More Efficient

Upgrading your PC’s Power Supply

The power supply is perhaps the number one enemy when it comes to trying to be efficient with a computer’s energy use. After all, this is what gives the PC power in the first place.

If the power supply is inefficient, your computer may be using more power from your electricity supply than what its wattage rating first showed. This is because a large chunk of its power is being lost to heat. 

In 2022, you shouldn’t be worrying about inefficient power supplies, but, unfortunately, they are still culprits in terms of you using more energy than you should.

We just need to go back 17 years or so and find that power supplies were only 60 percent efficient. So, if a computer required 100 watts to work properly, the power supply would have needed around 167 watts of power.

40 percent of that power was then being lost to additional heat build-up. 

In the 17 years leading up to now, the average efficiency of the power supply from a computer has reached over 80 percent. Therefore, only 125 watts of grid power are needed from an electric outlet if powering a 100 watt PC.

In turn, this equates to a significant decrease in energy consumption – 25 percent to be exact – and this is simply from updating the power supply and using a more efficient type instead. 

This step will cost you something, but, in the long run, you will save money on your energy bills and become greener. The amount of power you use will determine what sort of costs you are looking at to buy a new power supply.

On average, though, you should be looking at anything from $30 to $100.

With this in mind, let’s look at another upgrade that can make your IT life more efficient and greener. 

Upgrading your PC’s CPU

Although checking your settings on your PC and learning new habits can decrease your IT energy use, more steps may need to be taken eventually. At some point, you may need to inspect your computer’s hardware.

This is especially true if you have an older PC, as computer manufacturers have come on leaps and bounds in the last few years with regard to making their machines more energy efficient. 

One component you need to consider looking at is the CPU. Also called a microprocessor, the CPU is one of the main parts of a PC that uses energy. And, no wonder, as the CPU is essentially the core of the whole machine.

If you use an older version, such as a Pentium 4, you should find that upgrading your CPU will make a considerable difference to your PC’s energy consumption. 

When you take a look at the estimated wattage consumption of some CPUs, you may not see a huge difference, but, overtime, this build up of energy can have consequences on the environment and your bank balance. 

For instance, here are some examples:

  • Intel Pentium 4 consumes 100 watts
  • Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 consumes  50 watts
  • Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 consumes 35 watts

Just by upgrading your Intel Pentium 4 to an Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 can save up to 65 watts.

In terms of cost, if you want to upgrade your processor, you will be looking in the region of approximately $200, but this can vary.

It’s more expensive than upgrading your PC’s power supply but it will almost certainly cut the energy use of your CPU. In some cases, it will cut energy use by up to two-thirds, a huge difference.

In doing this, you can save on your energy bills, especially if you work from home every day, and start to become a far more efficient IT user. 

Upgrading the Monitor 

That’s right! Upgrading your whole PC setup can help you become more efficient and greener. 

Without doubt, the monitor drains power the most.

In a standard computer system, a monitor tends to make up at least half of the energy supply that has been used. Therefore, upgrading your monitor to something more efficient (usually something newer) is the best way to save energy overall. 

You may not think that changing your monitor will make all that much difference, but you’d be surprised. Changing from a low-efficiency system to a highly efficient monitor can bring about some significant differences in terms of energy consumption.

In fact, even if you compare two efficient monitors that are energy star-qualified, you can notice some drastic differences.

Take a monitor that uses 12.8 watts when in its activated mode, such as the Phillips 150S7. When you compare it to the ViewSonic VG510 monitor, which has a 15-inch flat screen like the 150S7 model, it uses 22 watts.

That is almost twice as much as its competitor! And, believe it or not, both are rated as Energy Star devices. It just takes some research before buying one to find out what is the most efficient.

The good news is that these monitors make up for their energy use in other departments. They each consume 0.8 watts when their sleep mode is activated. Thankfully, this is low. 

By activating their sleep modes, you will notice the biggest differences between low and high-efficiency models. By simply activating the power-saving features, the PC will go to sleep, and save a great deal of energy in the long run.

This is why we recommend upgrading to an Energy Star monitor with a very slow sleep wattage. 

Efficient, green, and money saving. What more could you want? 

Top 5 Methods to Make IT Greener and More Efficient

Bonus Tip

Be Smart with your Printing Habits

We couldn’t leave you without mentioning printing. This obviously uses up ink and lots of paper, which, in their own ways, can affect the surrounding environment. That is why you should print smart.

For ink to be manufactured, many resources are needed. The same applies to the production of ink cartridges, and, of course, paper. So, always think about when and what you’re printing. 

The good news is that there are numerous ways to become more efficient when printing.

Here are our top tips:

Just Don’t Print

Okay, you will need to print on occasions, maybe every day. But, before you go and hit that “Print” button, think to yourself, “do I really need to print this?”

Maybe it’s something you can simply show someone on your phone rather than printing it out. Maybe you need to print off a speech. Try memorizing it or reading it from a tablet.

By cutting back on how much you print, you will be saving ink, paper, energy, and even money. 

Use Both Sides of the Paper to Print

By doing this, your paper usage can be cut by up to 50%. And, you’ll also use less energy and money when printing double-sided pieces of paper. The less paper you use, the less you’ll need to buy as often.

So, if you need to print large amounts regularly, invest in a double-sided printing machine. This will also save you from frequently loading up the printer with paper.

Cut Down on your Printing Waste

Many of us are guilty of discarding blank pages and printing text that is unnecessary. This results in wasted paper and ink.

Only print what needs to be printed, so web addresses, and page numbers should be avoided to reduce the amount of ink you use in the long term.

In Summary

As you can see, there are many methods to help make IT greener, more efficient, and more sustainable.

Sometimes, all it takes is a change of habit, whereas other times you may need to spend a few hundred dollars, or less, on upgrading certain components of your PC.

By implementing any, or all, of the above, you can help both the environment and your bank balance. That’s a win-win in our books!

Joe Danner

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