Turn Off and Unplug
Computers, printers and other electronic machines can idle as much as 90% of the workday and are often left running overnight and on weekends. For many businesses, turning these machines OFF turns into big savings.
Electronic equipment continues to draw energy even when turned off. This phenomenon has been aptly called the “phantom load.” One efficient way to pull the plug and alleviate the phantom load is to use power strips to turn your equipment off and on. This method can be used to unplug several devices at once.
Computers - Power Management
Enable the “power management” setting on all computers and make sure to turn them off and unplug them at night.
A laptop computer uses up to 90% less energy than a desktop computer. Typical desktop computers use roughly 200 watts of electricity; monitors are responsible for up to 50-75% of this energy. Activate the energy-saving feature on your monitor. For Macs, use the help screen to navigate to the energy savings screen. For PC's, go to the Start menu, select Settings, then choose Control Panel, click on Display, and then set the Energy Star setting under the Screen Saver tab. (Don't be fooled by screen savers, they don't save power or your screen!)
Photocopier - Set to Low Power Mode
You can reduce energy consumption by 25% when operating photocopiers efficiently. Check the manual or ask your service representative to enable the copier's energy-efficient settings. The low-power mode will reduce the energy usage while the copier is active but enables it to quickly return to full functionality, if necessary. The sleep mode is the lowest power setting while the copier is still on. It may take 30 seconds to return to full function, so this setting should be enabled when there are long periods of photocopier inactivity. Be sure to turn photocopiers off and unplug them at the end of the day and on weekends.
Purchasing New Equipment
Consider government and industry standards when purchasing new electronic or computer equipment. Buying "green" electronics is about knowing what to look for. Certification labels, such as Green-Specs™, ENERGY STAR and EPEAT™ (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) help inform consumers and make it easier for them to compare both energy and cost savings. An ENERGY STAR labeled computer uses 70% less electricity than computers without this designation. If left inactive, ENERGY STAR labeled desktop computers enter a sleep mode and use 4 watts or less. Spending a large portion of time in low-power mode not only saves energy, but helps equipment run cooler and last longer.
An advantage of Green-Specs™ certificated electronic equipment is the elimination of harmful materials that have been found to have adverse effects on human health.
Disposing of Electronic Equipment
Recycling is the most earth friendly and community friendly way to dispose of electronic equipment. Recycling recovers valuable materials from old electronics that can be used to make new products. By recycling we reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce pollution and save energy. We also save resources by extracting fewer raw materials from the earth. Safe recycling of outdated electronics promotes sound management of toxic chemicals such as lead and mercury. Donating your used electronics can benefit your community by passing on ready-to-use or refurbished equipment to those who need it.
There are businesses that accept and buy electronics to recycle. You can locate an electronic recycler through a simple web search. To ensure that your electronics aren’t simply being shipped overseas to be dumped there, confirm that the company you choose has been approved by an organization like the EPA. Please remember to completely erase the information on hard drives before recycling them.
There are many helpful organizations dedicated to improving the environment and helping consumers. It is a fun adventure to surf all the wonderful information out there. Here are some reliable government sources:
- Energy Star Program
- Environmental Protection Agency - Green Resources
- Missouri Department of Natural Resources – Division of Energy
- Republic Services - All In One Recycling
- US Department of Energy
- US Department of Energy – Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy