If you are reading this I don't have to tell you that computers have become a huge part of everyday life. They enrich our lives allowing us to stay up to date on current events, share ideas, stay in touch with loved ones... for some they have become indispensable. So since they are here to stay, let's make sure they play nice with mother nature. Here are 5 easy ways you can Green your computer...
Vampire Power is the energy that is used by your electronics when they are seemingly off. For example, when your printer is off, it (some models) will use approximately 113 kilowatt hours per year! There are a lot of great products out there that will kill this vampire power, but this Mini Power Minder does it in a particularly intelligent way. The Mini Power Minder plugs into a wall socket and has two outlets and a USB port. One outlet receives power all the time, the other is controlled by the USB port. You connect one power strip to the "Always On" outlet for the devices you want to be getting power all the time, probably just your computer, cable modem and router. You plug another powerstrip into the other outlet and plug all the devices you don't need running when your computer is not like your printer, monitor, speakers... The Mini Power Minder connects to your PC with a USB cord and when it sense that your PC is powered off, it cuts power to all those secondary devices, eliminating their Vampire Power drain. This little guy will run you about $15.
The more things your computer is doing the more power it is going to use. Generally speaking, viruses, Trojans, and spyware are not designed to annoy you, they are usually designed to run undetected. Many of them run processes in the background that let hackers use your computer to do their dirty work... send spam, run attacks, steal personal information. An infected computer could be running at full bore taxing your processor and spinning your hard drives 24 hours a day. Keeping your computer secure will prevent this unnecessary use and save power. If you don't mind spending some $$$, you can buy Kaspersky Internet Security 7.0 for about $80. This is a killer all in one security suite that scored high on the AV Comparatives test. If you budget is tight there are a number of free utilities that will help keep you computer secure:
More and more computers and peripherals are being made with the environment in mind and if you are in the market for a new PC or peripheral then why not buy one that is energy efficient efficient and recyclable? Here are a couple hardware greenupgrades:
Laptop: Tecra A9
Monitor: Any LCD
LCD monitors typically use less than half the energy their bulkier CRT counter parts (17" CRT: 80 watts vs. 17" LCD: 35 watts). Plus, LCDs emit almost no magnetic fields, exposing you to less radiation than your CRT. The ViewSonic VA1616w is a particularly Green LCD consuming only 17.2 watts.
Hard Drive: Western Digital GreenPower Hard Drives
The WD GreenPower Hard Drives are Energy Star 4.0 compliant and offer an energy savings over traditional hard drives of 4-5 watts.
Now that you have a new computer don't just throw the other one away. Try donating it or recycling it. This eCycling page at the EPA website has many resources for you to help you get rid of your old computer in an eco-friendly way.
Most operating systems now-a-days have an "Energy Saver" power profile. It is primarily for Laptops running off of battery to improve the battery life, but you can use it on your desktop to save some energy while you are using your computer. Another setting you can change is your screens brightness. By dimming the brightness of your monitor you reduce it's energy consumption. Most monitors have this option, but if you want your timer on a dimmer you might need to do a little footwork. The timed dim is built into the Power Settings of Macs but if you have a PC, you'll need an add on program like Power Dimmer for Windows XP.
Just what it saysâ€¦ turn the thing off and then you don't have to worry about hackers, vampire power, energy consumption, or carpel tunnels!