Five Ways to Reduce Your Phantom Electricity Use

Posted by on July 6, 2010 in Business Financing, Business Management, Business News [ 1 Comment ]

Wireless communication systems are pervasive these days, but if you’re running a business chances are your still running a lot of wires and plugs in your walls.  The more electronic gadgetry that’s available to business owners also means the higher demand for electricity.  According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, “office equipment directly consumes 7% of total commercial electrical energy.”

Whether desktop computers, monitors, fax machines, copiers, scanners, or other multifunctional devices, office equipment consumes a fair amount of electricity.  Even when these devices are not on, but are still plugged in, they consume power.  A recent study from the Energy Center of Wisconsin examined energy used by this kind of equipment, and offers solutions to reduce it.  Here are five suggestions for businesses looking to limit their office ‘phantom’ energy use.

  1. Enabling power management settings on computers- Researches found that 75% of desktop computer electricity consumption occurs when no one is in front of the computer.  When you enable power settings your system will automatically respond to periods of inactivity by putting it into low power modes.  With respect to this study, 80% of desktop computers did not have these settings enabled.
  2. Knowing the difference between Hibernate and Sleep- Hibernate mode saves the existing session to the hard drive and eliminates the risk of losing data.  But recovering from hibernate will take longer than sleep mode.  In terms of electricity usage, hibernation always reduces to near zero consumption.  Sleep mode retains data in the volatile computer memory and can be ‘reawakened’ very quickly.  But if power is cut, unsaved files will be lost.  Sleep mode will generally use more energy than hibernation mode and might not be much of a reduction at all in older computer models.
  3. Using a “smart” power strip to disconnect power to peripherals when a main device (such as a computer) is turned off- A smart power strip is designed to reduce standby electricity consumption.  For example, if the main device is a computer, your periphery devices might be the accompanying monitor, printer, and stereo speakers.  In this way, the strip will sense when the main device is being turned off and will subsequently turn off the other devices it’s associated with.
  4. Manually unplugging- This one is pretty self-explanatory.  But many users will find this tiresome and annoying.  If it’s an easy plug to get to and you’re not using it most of the time, go ahead and unplug it.  If you’re going to manually unplug, however, it’s a good idea to turn of the equipment before you do as a safety precaution and to save device settings.
  5. Install Google’s Energy Saving Gadget- This is a software tool which allows you to easily monitor your computer’s energy use.  It sets your computer’s power management settings to EPA recommended standards and will show you how much energy you’re saving.

Michael Dykstra is a writer at Resource Nation.  He writes extensively about  purchasing and outsourcing decisions for small business owners and entrepreneurs.


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