Extreme energy makeover: Home office edition

Replacing equipment and changing some habits makes a big difference to the author's energy usage -- and wallet

1 2 3 4 Page 3
Page 3 of 4

I also decided to replace the LaserJet, which has plenty of miles on it and has always had an annoying tendency to produce curled pages. When the smaller, faster, more energy-efficient LaserJet 1018 went on sale for $64.99 after a $50 rebate -- less than the cost of a toner cartridge for the 1200 -- I was sold. The new unit consumes just 2 watts in standby mode, 4 watts less than the LaserJet 1200. When compared using the Typical Electricity Consumption operating power tests (download PDF) required by the EPA's newest Energy Star guidelines for imaging equipment, the 1018 draws 65 fewer watts during operation -- 23% less power -- than the 1200.

Finally, I decided to turn off my secondary laptop, the Dell, which used to spend most of its time sitting in standby mode. Now I turn it completely off when I'm not using it, just leaving it plugged in to keep the battery from discharging. And to reduce its power consumption for those times when I do use it, I have configured power management to turn off the monitor, spin down the disk and go into standby mode after 15 minutes of inactivity and to hibernate after 30 minutes.

 
clear.gif
clear.gif
 
clear.gif

Tip:  Enabling power management on your desktop or laptop can save from $14 to $45 per year in power consumption. Start timeouts at 15 minutes for the display and disk spin-down, 30 minutes for standby and 45 minutes for hibernate mode. Then try more aggressive settings for the display and disk. Energy efficiency consulting firm Rocky Mountain Institute recommends trying to get down to 2 to 3 minutes for each.

clear.gif
clear.gif
 
clear.gif
clear.gif

I then turned to the power management settings for my primary machine, a Lenovo ThinkPad T43. While its monitor timeout was already set to 15 minutes, the disk timeout was set to "Never." I changed the settings to match the Dell, the setttings recommended by a Lenovo Group Ltd. spokesperson

The Rocky Mountain Institute's Lovins suggests even more aggressive settings. "Since your hard drive is designed to spin up and down an enormous number of times, don't hesitate to cut its turnoff setting from 15 minutes to, say, two or three. The same for the monitor," he says. But since most people never even turn on power management settings, I decided to stick with the manufacturer's recommendations this time around and see where that got me.

After all that, typical power consumption when I was at my desk dropped to about 70 watts, or 0.58 watts per square foot, and the off-hours load dropped to just 42 watts. Total power consumption came in at 1.33 kWh over a 24-hour period, or 485 kWh a year -- a 40% improvement in energy efficiency. That would reduce my annual electricity bill to $68, a savings of $44.

Digging deeper

At this point, the trade-offs got a bit stickier. I've been using my office for eight to 10 hours a day but still leaving everything powered on around the clock. I decided to start turning everything off by flipping the big red switch on the power strip at the end of each workday.

By doing this, I am reducing not just operating hours per workday, but also the number of days that my office equipment is in service, which will drop from 365 days a year to 250 after vacations and weekends are eliminated. The upshot is that my annual power consumption should come down to just 0.59 kWh a day, which projects out to just 147.5 kWh a year. Bottom line: I could cut my IT equipment energy bill to just $21 -- a $91 savings.

I went further. I pushed my disk and monitor timeouts to 3 minutes. I kept standby mode at 15 minutes but set hibernate for 20 minutes -- the lowest setting.

1 2 3 4 Page 3
Page 3 of 4
7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon