Turn that computer off when you’re finished.

Yes that’s been said over and over.  Anywhere that you look for tips on how to conserve energy, lower your monthly bills, or save the environment will have this as one of their tips.

The Energy Star rating is good, but it doesn’t go far enough.  I’ve seen reports where it shows leaving the computer plugged in (along with a host of other electronic gear) and shut off, doesn’t prevent electricity from being used.  It just minimizes the amount of electricity that the electronic device is drawing.

The question is, do you REALLY have to leave the computer running?  I have two computers that are running right now.  One is acting like a file and web server for my site and network.  The other one is this computer that I’m on right now.  Whenever I’ve read the tips, I thought “I have to keep them running though.”  But do I?

In researching for this topic, I’ve come to realize that the question you need to ask yourself isn’t “Do I need to have that computer running?”  but “Why do I need to have that computer running?”  Is it really vital for you to have it turned on, or just a convenience so you don’t have to wait for it to boot up?  Is it vital for you to have those programs open and running, or just a convenience of not having to click on an icon and wait?

All of the talk about networking your home, and making sure you have a backup plan is important.  But, one thing that’s overlooked is this.  If you only use the computer for 4 hours a day, and you shut it down the other 20, you’re less likely to have a system failure in the same amount of time that you would if you leave it run the other 20 hours.  ***That’s NOT to say you shouldn’t back up, and not to say it can’t happen.*** Just that it’s less likely to happen for normal reasons.

I won’t go so far as to say “Unplug the computer when you shut it down” because in some cases that’s just not a feasible solution.  Especially if your computer desk is close enough to the wall, that it will take you 5 minutes just to unplug it or plug it back in.  But if you have the power strip somewhere handy, turn it off. 

Group all of the things that you absolutely MUST keep running (modem or router for example) on one strip, and leave that one on.  But that actually brings up another question.  Do you really need to have the cable modem or router turned on while the computer is off?  Probably not.  Unless you’re running a web server or something that requires you to maintain your IP address, you can get away with shutting down and restarting in the morning.

Later on, I will find some computers and products which are more “environmentally friendly” than others and give you some links to information about them and where to find the list.

Have a great day:)

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