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By Colleen Welch

The shift from a paper-based existence toward cloud computing might help save trees, but it isn't exactly energy neutral. Computer technology requires gobs of energy, accounting for about 2% of all human-created CO2 output, Green Computing reports. And it's estimated that IT energy usage will double in the next four years.

Fortunately, there are several easy ways to reduce energy usage in the office:

Minimizing Energy Use

A PC Pro Labs study found that 25 percent of U.S. employees leave their work computers on all weekend. One of the simplest ways to reduce your company's energy usage is to turn them off. Contrary to popular myth, shutting down your computer at the end of the day will always save energy, as the energy conserved more than offsets the energy required to restart a computer.

Get the rest of the office on board by calling a company meeting to review energy use policies and actively encouraging employees to power down computers when they are not in use.

It also helps to optimize each machine's power settings. According to PC Pro Labs, 67% of workers run a screensaver, which causes the monitor to consume energy. It's much more efficient to set your computer to sleep or hibernate mode, which can cut output by as much as a half a ton of CO2 a year and translate into about $60 in energy savings per computer per year.

To access power options in Windows XP, go to Start > Control Panel > Power options. On a Mac, go to System Preferences > Energy Saver. You should be able to adjust how long your machine will remain idle before the going into monitor sleep mode, hard disk sleep mode and system standby.

Making Better Purchases

Energy conservation begins with the purchasing decisions you make. You can reduce your company's power usage by seeking out energy-efficient products.

  • Choose laptops. Laptops use up to 90% less energy than desktop computers, so consider buying a laptop for that next computer upgrade.
  • Look for ENERGY STAR. The government awards the ENERGY STAR label to products, homes and manufacturing plants that are energy efficient.
  • Consider monitor type and size. Flat-screen LCD monitors are more efficient than traditional cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors, and smaller monitors require less energy than larger ones. Even something as simple as lowering the brightness on your screen can significantly reduce your energy usage.
  • Consider adding a remote-access device. IT service professionals can tell you how virtualization, smart strips and other forward-thinking approaches can help you save energy and money.

Conducting Energy Audits

An energy audit is the ultimate tool for reducing ...  Read entire article:

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