How to Save Money with an IT Power Management Policy

IT needs consume a lot of energy

Power management for IT departments is becoming increasingly important for large and small companies alike. In the commercial sector, IT equipment and related communication technologies — computers, monitors, servers, printers, telephones, video conferencing equipment, etc. — now account for about 10 percent of an organization’s energy use.

According to Gartner Group, an information technology research and advisory company, organizational waste from IT equipment is significant:

- PCs and their monitors consume nearly twice the electricity of servers.
- Even when a monitor is turned off or set to standby, a PC consumes almost as much power as a fully-powered, but idle PC.
- Enterprise organizations waste close to $4 billion, or one-third of their annual energy consumption, powering PCs that aren’t being used.
- Even when not in use, the majority of enterprise PCs are kept on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all year round.
- Most PC users in organizations incorrectly believe that IT departments need computers to be left on all the time in order to offer access to critical system maintenance or system updates.
- Typical business hours account for less than 30 percent of a PC’s use, which means that PCs are wasting electricity more than 70 percent of the time.

A typical PC consumes between 400 kilowatt-hours and 600 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, depending on factors such as brand, components and workload. In January 2008, the average price of electricity in the United States was $0.0898 per kilowatt-hour and ranged from $0.0533 in Idaho to $0.2536 in Hawaii. Based on these numbers, if all computers in a 10,000-machine organization were left on all the time, the organization’s annual cost for electricity would be between $1,867,632 and $13,329,216.

A power management policy for PCs alone can save an organization between $20 and $60 per computer per year.

Although Gartner Group estimates that organizations can save up to 50 percent of their energy costs on PCs alone by adopting a power management strategy, most IT departments fail to institute power management programs that result in PC users taking advantage of even the most minimal power saving features available on their machines.

7 Energy-Saving Tactics for Your Organization’s IT Power Management Policy

Although an energy-saving power management policy may seem like an expensive thing to develop and implement, IT departments can often combine a little employee education with existing, free or inexpensive power management tools for an affordable policy that saves far more money than it requires.

1. Turn off IT equipment during non-business hours

Completely shutting down computers, monitors, printers, copiers and other IT-related equipment when the office is closed not only conserves roughly 70 percent of the energy those devices would otherwise consume, it also cuts air conditioning costs by reducing internal heat gain. Don’t leave equipment in Sleep or Standby modes overnight because a small amount of power will continue to be drawn.

2. Be careful when using computer screen savers

While screen savers may help prevent burn-in on some types of monitors, they don’t always do a good job of saving energy during periods of inactivity. For organizations that use screen savers, make sure they’re compatible with computers’ power management features.

3. Activate power-saving features in office equipment

All modern printers, copiers, fax machines and other common office machines have built-in power management features. Make sure that these features are activated and running properly.

4. Opt for laptops and notebooks over desktops

Most laptop and notebook computers are more than powerful enough for typical office use. Although the initial investment might be a bit more expensive, laptops and notebooks use 90 percent less energy than desktops.

5. Install plug load controllers in cubicles

Plug load controllers use a motion sensor incorporated with a plug load surge suppressor and can control multiple loads, such as computers, monitors, task lighting and fans. Inactive equipment is easily shut down when cubicles are unoccupied.

6. Purchase or lease ENERGY STAR–certified office equipment

Office and IT equipment certified by ENERGY STAR is energy-efficient and uses power management features to automatically power down during periods of inactivity, resulting in energy savings of up to 50 percent or more.

7. Purchase or lease ENERGY STAR–certified vending machines

While vending machines may not seem like a big deal at first, this equipment runs all the time to keep drinks and food cold including nights and weekends. Vending machines certified by ENERGY STAR incorporate energy efficient compressors with refrigeration and lighting controls that can save 30 percent to 50 percent when compared to the energy use of older, non-certified equipment.

Sources

Triumfant white paper, “Green IT Power Management.”

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