by Paul Korzeniowski
Costs are rising as capabilities are increasing
You have loaded up with the latest display, maxed out your disk storage, and have a screaming system, so much so that you are online just about 24/7. One downside is you find that your monthly energy costs have grown along with your system’s capabilities. However, some steps can reduce it, so you have some pocket money. “A person can easily cut their electricity costs by as much as 50%,” said Simon Mingay, a research vice president at Gartner Inc.
Just about all computers now are set to make an adjustment whenever the system is inactive,but there are many variables users need to consider when establishing these settings. For instance, the period of time when this function is invoked differs from machine to machine. In general, the command is followed after about 15 minutes of inactivity, but that number can be higher or lower.
Sleep? Hibernate? Shut down?
Also what occurs differs. With PCs, there are Standby and Hibernate modes. Standby is an energy-saving mode designed to reduce power but allow users to quickly (a few seconds) pick up where they were. Hibernate saves all of the data a user is working with and then turns the computer off. It uses less energy but takes more time to revive the system. In Standby and Hibernate states, a computer uses 0-20 watts of power compared to the hundreds of watts usually required. So, the potential energy savings that these options offer are significant.
Turning the system off is the third option. There is a notion that leaving it on may use less electricity but that is rarely the case. If a user will be away from the system for the night, it is best to turn it off.
Picking the right monitor
A monitor can be a significant energy hog, often chewing up as much energy as the main system. When in search of a new monitor, one should look for an LED (Light-Emitting Diode) solution. LED and LCD monitors rely on the same basic technology for image display, but they differ in the type of backlighting used. LED monitors use light emitting diodes; LCD monitors are based on cold cathode fluorescent lamps. LCDs house both lamps and a reflector. LEDs are simpler and emit light with varying degrees of brightness, which translates into different colors. LCDs stay backlight whenever a PC is on; LEDs illuminate only when the system is active.
Consequently, LED designs consume about 40% less energy than CCFL-backlit LCD monitors.
The LED approach has a few other advantages. LED monitors deliver sharper contrast, especially for any image using black. These monitors also tend to last longer than CCFL systems, which typically burn out in one to three years of heavy usage. Cost is a downside with LED solutions. These monitors are about $100 to $200 more than LCD monitors. However, consumers can recoup this investment over the long haul from energy savings and increased reliability.
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