Are Your Computer Habits Green?

green computing habitsMore and more people are trying to decrease their carbon footprint, and that’s a good thing. The more green initiatives we all take, the better the planet will be for it.

Sadly though, most individuals focus on the obvious things like switching out their traditional light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs or making sure their major appliances are rated energy star.

But did you know your computer is one of the biggest watt-eaters in your home? According to, the NAHB Research Center’s website, a personal computer that is used for a mere 4 hours a day can use 400-kilowatt hours per year. That’s just a little more than what it takes to run a high-efficiency refrigerator. And obviously, if you use your computer more than the mentioned 4 hours, which a great many people do, the energy consumption goes up and up.

Luckily, some green computing habits can cut down your energy usage by 60% or more, and these good habits are easy to implement.

Here are some steps you can take immediately to “green up” your computer habits and decrease your energy consumption every year.

Check Your Computer’s Settings

When you get a new computer, one of the first things you should do is switch its power-saving settings. Most computers have this option, but when they are shipped to the stores, they are not set to these settings.

You can cut your PC’s energy consumption by 50% or even more just by activating these power-saving features.

Now if you have an old computer, you might find it only has 2 modes: on and off. In this case, it might be time to trade this dinosaur in for a newer model. New computers are built with multiple modes of operation, so instead of just on and off, you also have the option of “sleep,” “hibernate,” and “dim.”

Every computer is different, of course, but generally, you can find your power settings options via your control panel. In a minute or less you can make some high-efficiency changes.

The Power of Off

You wouldn’t leave your TV or vacuum cleaner running all night, would you? Well, it makes about as much sense to leave your computer on all night. And yet the majority of users will do just that. It’s not good for the machine itself as the internal parts can easily overheat, and it’s certainly not good for your energy consumption.

Allowing your computer to go into sleep mode is better than nothing, but really, nothing beats just shutting the machine off when not in use.

Also, it’s a good idea to plug all of your computer components into a surge protector power strip. Not only will this protect your PC should there be a surge in power, but it will also make it extremely easy to unplug everything at night, and plug back in in the morning.

Monitor Your Monitor

Of all the working parts of a computer, the monitor is the single-biggest power drain, usually consuming around half of the energy draw. If you haven’t upgraded your monitor in a few years, it may be time to search for a newer, more efficient model.

But be sure to do your homework as not all computer models are created equal. Even Energy Star-certified monitors can vary drastically with their energy consumption. Some models may use 12 watts in active mode while others can use 22 watts.

Make Your Hardware Easy on Your Electric Bills

At a certain point, you have to look at the guts inside of your computer to see if they draining too much energy. The fact is, no matter how green you try and get your computing habits, if your computer is old, the hardware is old, and that will need addressing.

Your PC’s microprocessor uses a lot of energy which makes sense because it is the heart of the system. Older models may still be using a Pentium 4 CPU which requires 100 watts. Newer computers generally have an Intel Core 2 Duo processor which only requires 35-50 watts to operate.

Now, installing a new processor is not exactly cheap – new ones can cost around $200, but this investment can cut your energy consumption drastically which will lead to huge energy savings. This is especially true if you are one of the many people who work from home and run your computer for 8+ hours a day.

Final Tips

If you are in the market for a new computer, consider purchasing a laptop instead of a desktop. Not only will you have the convenience of portability, but your notebook computer will also use about 50% less energy than a clunky, old desktop model.

When you do buy your new laptop, consider purchasing the extended warranty as well. Doing this will make it less likely that you trash your computer in a couple of years and buy a new one if you know some simple repairs are covered.

These simple tips will help you and your family go green, help the planet, and save money all at the same time.

Categories: Green Living

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