by January 1, 2009 0 comments

Though in documentaries, like Inconvenient Truth, disturbing facts and
alarming enough predictions were shown, but to change ways for the sake of the
environment alone didn’t manage to make that big an impact. The main reason
behind this being industries and corporates. The question to be answered,
remained a rather simple one for them, where is the business value in going

As more than anything, it’s profits and revenues that drives an organization,
the question was important. Therefore the right answer could create a win-win
situation for both, organizations across the planet and for the planet itself.

The answer came in the form of energy efficient devices ranging from CFLs to
more serious equipment like processors etc. And after all, in a financial crisis
like one in hand, saving money sounds nothing less than a great idea. Because
computers have become omnipresent and lie at the heart of information
technology, we scrutinize everything around them, inside-out in order to find
the greenest options available for you. At last, don’t forget, green is also the
color of money.

What is a green PC?
Any personal computer that’s low on power consumption and is environment
friendly can be called a green PC. Though many manufacturers don’t have specific
products under this category, finding a green option that fulfills your
requirements isn’t rocket science. A green PC should be assembled with
environment friendly components. These might be built with recyclable products
and must be low on energy consumption. Components that consume less energy not
only save the planet but would also result in lower energy costs hence savings.

What makes a green PC green?
Building a green PC isn’t a difficult job. There are a number of components that
are manufactured to be easy on the environment and when using them savings come
as a byproduct. Let’s dig deep into how.

Processors: Processor manufacturers have been constantly coming out
with new products that consume less power than their predecessors and are better
performing. The main thing to keep in mind here is the kind of performance you
want your desktop to deliver. The more the better might be your first answer,
but it also means an increase in power consumption. If you’re planning to buy
new PCs for employees in your organization, then first find out the
requirements. For example, if running basic productivity software and surfing
the Internet is what’s required, then going for low power consumption processor
like the Atom might be a good option.

The power consumption of a desktop computer running on the Atom which costs a
little more than 15k is around 20 watts as compared to a Pentium 4 based PC
which consumes 75! That’s a whooping 70% less power consumption while
performance being similar, sufficient enough for running Windows XP and other
basic productivity apps. Let’s see how much money can you save by using them.

Assuming that an employee uses a PC for 10 hours daily and comes to work on
250 days in an year, a Pentium 4 based machine consumes Rs 1500 worth of
electricity considering the cost of energy at Rs 8 per unit. On the other hand,
running an Atom based desktop costs only Rs 400. That means you save 1,100 per
annum on each machine that is just used for basic productivity!
Even though the price of these devices is quite less, people still find the
thought of getting a more powerful PC in the same price range way too tempting.
But, what more than often gets overlooked is the downside of buying a powerful
machine when not needed. Power consumptions and running costs of a Core 2 Duo
and Core 2 Quad based machines are also shown in the graphs.

Motherboards: When talking of green, there is more to this component
than just an efficient design. Motherboard manufacturers have been developing
technologies that would make their products smart enough to consume less power.
Technologies like Asus’s Energy Processing Unit helps motherboards in analyzing
the actual CPU loading and dynamically regulates system power saving and
performance parameters to create an optimal energy saving configuration. We
tested the Asus P5Q Pro which sports the EPU technology against another
motherboard (Gigabyte EP45 UD3P in this case) with a similar setup, one that
didn’t have this technology. We found out when running a Core 2 Quad processor
the reduction in energy consumption to be as high as up to 40 watts!

Time for a little number crunching again to make things clearer. Assuming the
same employee again, who uses his computer for 10 hours daily and works 250 days
in an year. The amount of energy consumed by the CPU in an year while using an
energy efficient motherboard comes out to be 305kWh as compared to another
motherboard which consumes 405kWh. Converting into energy bills by taking the
cost of each unit of electricity to be Rs 8, the energy efficient motherboard
saves you Rs 800. That is savings of 80,000 for every hundred machines that run
on energy efficient motherboard!

Monitors, LCD vs CRT: Apart from being insanely heavy and difficult to
carry around, other disadvantages of a CRT monitor include their power
consumption. LCD monitors, apart from being aesthetically very pleasing to the
eye, slim and stylish, are also designed in a way to consume less energy than a
conventional CRT monitor. LCD monitors definitely hold the edge over CRT
monitors when it comes to being energy efficient. The huge tube in a CRT monitor
is the source of most of its energy consumption, and a comparably sized LCD may
use just a fraction of the electricity. When we compared the two, a 17” CRT
monitor consumed 72watts and on the other hand a 17” LCD consumed just 20 watt,
that’s less than one-third of the CRT!

Let’s see how stressful CRT’s can be to the pocket. A 17” CRT being used for
10 hours a day, 250 days in an year consumes 180 kWh and at Rs 8 per unit costs
Rs 1440 to run. Whereas a 17” LCD being used for the same amount of time
consumes only 50 kWh. That makes each LCD consume Rs 1,040 worth of electricity
less than its CRT counterpart! Therefore a hundred LCDs would save you Rs
1,04,000 in electricity bills!

Initially the main reason which stopped people from switching to LCDs was
their price, but even that doesn’t exist anymore as a number of options are
available in different price ranges. Therefore when buying a new monitor, going
for an LCD is a better option as they would not only consume less space, they
would also consume less power.

Hard Drives: There are options for storing your invaluable data while
consuming as less power as possible. Manufacturers like Hitachi have come with
their range of energy efficient storage solutions for desktop PCs. These hard
drives have advanced power management systems that make them consume less power
during idle periods and also an improved design for a higher power efficiency.
Even external hard drives come with efficient power management systems that push
them into sleep mode when not in use.

Other components: Graphic processing units to RAMs, research and
development teams across all segments are trying to keep upcoming devices as
energy efficient as possible. And apart from power consumption, use of
recyclable products is being considered wherever possible.

Make your current PC hug trees?
Using your personal computer judicially and intelligently can lower your
electricity bills significantly. Applicable to both desktop and laptop users,
these simple to implement tips can prove to be helpful for everybody. Here are a
few simple but crucial things that can make you help save the earth (and some
money too).

To download a file, finish a task, or perform an automated backup you don’t
need to leave your PC on all night. You can use the schedule task feature in
Windows Vista or XP to wake your computer from sleep mode if you want to perform
a regular task like a backup in the middle of the night.

If you are downloading a file and tend to keep your PC switched on, then
check out Add-ons like Auto shutdown for Firefox and many others. These
automatically turn off your PC after all files are downloaded.

Even if not a Firefox user, you can find tools like Shutdown After and Winoff
to schedule a shutdown. Whether downloading a file or rendering a video, if you
have a rough idea how long it will take to finish the task. You can schedule
your PC to shutdown, hibernate, or sleep shortly after the task gets finished.

Though there are many reasons why people avoid upgrading to Windows Vista,
but one advantage of upgrading is that Vista offers a more detailed control over
your PC’s power settings. When running in balanced mode, Vista throttles down
the CPU hardware when you’re performing less CPU-intensive tasks.

Applications like CO2Saver helps reduce power consumption. While running in
the background of Windows XP or Vista machines, it adjusts power settings
automatically. When the PC is not being used the application kicks into action
and lowers your performance settings.

Simple things like turning off your monitor when not using, buying components
with energy star ratings can reduce the electricity consumption. Making such
things habitual can eventually lower your energy bills dramatically.

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