How to Green your Computer

 

The production of computers is energy and material intensive, it creates significant amounts of waste, and uses many toxic materials. Therefore it is critical to purchase, use and dispose of computers in the most sustainable manner possible.

The following in an excerpt from the book “The Ultimate Guide to Greening your Home”.

Below are some tips to help you green your computer usage.

✔ Turn on your energy management features - All computers, regardless of the operating system, come with energy management features. Be sure these setting put your computer in ‘hibernate’ or ‘deep sleep’ mode after a certain period of inactivity.

✔ Turn off your screen saver - While helping save your screen, screen savers do not save electricity.  Depending on the complexity of the screen saver, the screen saver may be using as much processing power as when you are using your computer to run programs. Opt to have your computer go into ‘hibernation’ or ‘deep sleep’ after a period of inactivity as opposed to using screen savers to protect your screen.

✔ Stop the spinning disks - Your hard disks in your computer, unless told not to, could be spinning even when the computer is not in use. Be sure to click the box next to the control panel that controls disk spinning.

✔ Buy an EnergyStar certified computer - Computers that have earned EnergyStar certification meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the US Environmental Protection Agency. Desktop, integrated desktop, and notebook (laptop) computers, workstations, small-scale servers, and thin clients are all eligible to earn certification.  The latest certification level is 5.0.

✔ Plug your computer into a power strip - By using a power strip, you can eliminate the energy wasted from ‘energy vampires’ – equipment that draws power even when turned off.  By turning the power strip off when you turn off your equipment, you make sure no energy is being wasted.

✔ Consider getting a laptop instead of a desktop - Getting a laptop (or notebook) is the most effective way to save energy in home computing. Energy consumption is a critical factor in notebook design, as it determines how long the batteries will last. As a consequence, laptops use the most energy efficient displays (LCD), adapters, hard disks and CPUs available. Laptops will always have energy management features built in and turned on (as the default)

✔ Unplug your laptop charger when not in use – Your laptop charger is a classic example of an ‘energy vampire.’  It will continue to draw power, even if your laptop has finished charging.  Either unplug the charger or turn off the power strip.

✔ Dispose of your computer properly - At the end of your computer’s life, do not throw it into the trash.  Computers thrown into the trash become electronic waste (e-waste).  E-waste is the fastest growing portion of the US waste stream, rising at rates around eight percent each year.  Computers contain high enough levels of toxic materials such as lead, barium, cadmium, and mercury that render them hazardous when disposed. Below are the best options for your computer at its end of life:

  • If your computer is in good working order, consider donating it to a local charity or school.
  • Another option is to drop your computer off at a recycling center.
  • Most computer manufacturers and major retailers have computer take-back programs.

✔ Match your computer to your needs – If you are going to use your computer just for email and web surfing, consider getting a less expensive model with lower specs (slower processor, less memory, etc.).  The higher the specifications, the more energy the computer will consume.

✔ Think twice before upgrading your operating system – Before conducting a major upgrade to your operating system, research what new features the upgrade will deliver and determine if you really need them.  Many upgrades require more ram memory and processing power.  This may increase your computer’s power consumption and may noticeably reduce performance.

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