I know that my computer has energy efficiency settings. Yours does, too. But I almost never mess with them. For some reason, for a lot of us, messing with the settings is one of those things you hear about, and know about, but put off to take care of “later,” when you find yourself at the computer with “some free time.” But let’s be honest—your free time at your computer (and mine!) is a lot more likely to be devoted to trolling gossip sites and Facebook than to fine-tuning your computer’s energy settings. So hey, HEY! Let’s take a minute and change that today. Here’s some very simple advice—some of which you can put into action right now, while you read this entry. You’ll save energy going forward, and you’ll assuage that guilty conscience by finally taking some easy little steps toward a more efficient home or office.
- Hibernation With winter dragging on and on, doesn’t hibernation sound so appealing right now? Well, your computer feels the same way. Allow it to take nice little naps during the day when you wander away on coffee breaks, lunch breaks, talk-to-your-coworkers-in-the-hallway breaks, or whatever it is you do when you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing. Ok, first, go into your computer’s power management panel… Seriously, do this right now! Now, set the display and the hard drive to both go to sleep after 10 minutes or less of inactivity. Next, make sure the entire system is set to go into standby/sleep mode within 20-30 minutes. The lower you can keep the numbers in these settings, the better. That was so easy, right?
- Screen Saver = Energy Waster! Can you believe it? Well, it’s true! Screen savers are a leftover idea from the early days of picture tube monitors, completely unnecessary for today’s monitors. They actually use a lot more energy than simply setting your monitor to dim itself before going to sleep would. So ditch the scrolling photos of frogs and blades of grass for some truly green action: set your monitor to dim after 5 minutes or less of inactivity.
- Dim your watts, dimwits! The brightest setting on your monitor causes it to gobble up twice as much energy as the dimmest setting. Save those wasted watts by keeping the monitor running on a much dimmer setter all the time. As the daylight changes wherever you’re using your computer, adjust the brightness.
- Strip smarter Need we have the power strip conversation again? So, you know that it’s a good idea to plug electronics into a power strip to avoid that phantom load we’ve talked about before. This is an especially good idea when it comes to your computer, which tends to hang out with a lot of power-hungry friends like printers and speakers. The best solution of all is to get a smart plug strip, which will automatically cut the power flow when your computer and its posse aren’t in use. Automatic is good, because it’s one less thing for you to remember!
- Choose Wisely If you’re thinking about replacing your computer, make efficiency a priority when you shop. Check TopTenUSA.org for lists of the 10 most efficient laptops, desktop computers, and small and large monitors. These super-efficient choices, coupled with the easy tips above, will mean big energy and money savings over the course of your computer’s lifetime.