Are You Computing Energy Efficiently?

a.k.a., How Big Is Your Paw Print?

We all add to carbon dioxide emissions that trap heat in the atmosphere each time we flip a light switch on, fiddle with the thermostat, turn on a computer, or a dozen other energy-consuming activities. The sum of the emissions for these activities is often referred to as your carbon footprint (or, if you are a Lobo, your paw print).

There are lots of calculators for measuring your carbon footprint that you can find on the Internet, but you don’t need to know its size in order to take simple steps to reduce it.

Lights out
Going to a meeting? Or to lunch? Turn off the lights in your office on your way out the door. Better yet, if you are lucky enough to have a window, don’t turn the lights on at all. How about after the meeting — does the conference room need to be lighted when it’s not in use? Flip that light switch off!

Blank out
Minimize use of screen savers and instead enable power management features so your computer equipment will go into a low power "sleep mode" (blank screen) when not in use. Estimates indicate that efficiently using a computer’s power management features will save up to $17 per computer per year.

In Windows, adjust your power settings by right-clicking on your desktop. Go to the Screen Saver tab and click the Power button to set up a power scheme that turns off your monitor after a short period of inactivity.

On a Mac, select System Preferences under the Apple Menu, then click on the Energy Saver Preference Pane. Adjust the slider for putting the display to sleep after a period of inactivity.

Over and out
When it’s time to go home, shut down your computer if you can.

Note: Information Technologies is "pushing-out" updates around the lunch hour, so IT employees may shut down their computers when they leave for the day. Some department computers are on a managed system that require the computers be "left on" overnight to accept system updates, but you may safely turn off the monitor and printer. Check with your department IT staff to determine how system updates are implemented. It’s no longer true that leaving a computer on all the time is less stressful to the electronics than turning it off and on.

And, of course, turn off the lights.

All of these tips will work at home, too!