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Energy Sustainability Via Power Management
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by Editor

By taking some simple steps in the power management of your computer equipment you can gain a significant dollar savings in energy costs. Powering down monitors when not in use, and turning off monitors or computers at night can conserve electricity. The U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and the U.S. Department of Energy have joined voices to bring to light possible savings and the sustainability of energy resources through their informational program titled "Energy Star" (ES).

ES estimates that roughly 100 million office computers and monitors use more than 1% of our nation's electricity. And more than half of the electricity used to power PCs is wasted. Power management already exists in many computers but just needs to be activated. So the EPA has created easy to follow instructions for a variety of Windows and Macintosh operating systems that you can use to manually enable power management on your computer. Follow this link to the list of instructions on the ES web site, http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=pm_enable.pr_pm_home_enable

(It is suggested that you check with your own local IT Support personnel before implementing as they might already have specific settings activated for you.)

The EPA also offers several free tools that automatically work with the standard features in Windows 95, 98, ME, 2000, and XP and Macintosh operating systems to help you conserve energy. You can save energy on your computer in two ways using these tools: Monitor Power Management (MPM), or Computer Power Management (CPM).

  • MPM places active monitors into a lower power sleep mode after a period of inactivity. This can reduce power draw from 60-90 watts down to 2-3 watts; resulting in an estimated savings of $30 per monitor in energy costs annually. The EPA offers two no cost tools that automatically activate MPM:
    • For IT server administrators: "EZ Save" is a free centrally-administered software tool which uses a computer's existing power management functionality. It polls monitors on a network to determine each monitor's power management settings and sets appropriate power management settings on monitors on the network. EZ Save requires no special processes on the network, no special hardware, and no client installations.
    • "EZ Wizard" is a simple web-based tool that automatically actives MPM settings on individual PCs using the existing power management functionality. EZ Wizard is one alternative solution for individual computer users because it is easy to use and can be launched from a web site.
  • CPM places the computer itself (CPU, hard drive, etc.) into a lower power sleep mode; reducing power draw from 40-90 watts to 2-3 watts; resulting in an estimated savings per computer of $15-$45 annually. There is also a free group-monitoring tool offered by the EPA for IT server administrators called "EZ GPO" that controls CPM using group policy objectives. However, EZ GPO cannot be activated in computer labs, where machines are left on 24/7, because these machines are left in a logged off state.

You are encouraged to check out all the free tools offered by Energy Star at their web site: www.energystar.gov/powermanagement. As always it is best to consult with your local campus IT specialist before implementing any power management measures.

Please note that the modules EZ Save and EZ GPO are to be used by Windows server administrators to manage their user-base, and are not for individuals monitoring their own PCs. These are general recommendations of the U.S. EPA and Dept. of Energy and as such would need to be evaluated by the network IT administrator as to whether or not to incorporate them within their own network.

As a general rule, ITS would not encourage users to run an executable from a web site as the EZ Wizard does and would advise that the manual operation of turning on these settings has the advantage of empowering the user to learn another aspect of their computer. However, it is listed as an alternative and sanctioned by the EPA and Dept. of Energy government agencies.
 
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