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Making Our Computers Greener: How to Reduce the Environmental Impact of Your Computer Usage

written by: Bill Bunter•edited by: Bill Bunter•updated: 2/4/2011

What can we do to compute in a more environmentally-friendly manner? This article outlines some of the simple steps you can take including recycling, using your computer's power management settings and using an environmentally-friendly search engine.

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    Computers and their peripheral equipment use a considerable amount of energy (see article How Much Electricity Does a Computer Use? for details) and contain hazardous materials but it's easy to reduce their environmental impact. Here's some things that you may like to do in your personal or business life that can help make your computer more eco-friendly.

    If you haven't already make your computer shut off whenever you're not using it, here's a list of other practical tips you can easily do to make certain that your computer isn't burning up energy to produce large amounts of carbon emissions. Just by making some small adjustments can lead to a large reduction on the environment.

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    Use Power Management

    Whether it be hibernate, sleep, or standby, your personal computer or Mac has power management settings that enable it to automatically sleep after a period of inactivity. Enabling these options is easy and can save up to $60 per year on your electricity bill - which translates to half a ton of CO2. If you are unsure how to turn on the power management options for your computer, see our article Reduce Energy Usage with Power Management Settings.

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    Turn Off Your Screensaver

    Screensavers are unnecessary eye-candy on modern monitors and running one can increase energy consumption as it may prevent the monitor from dimming when idle. By turning off your screensaver, your monitor can be shut off without wasting any electricity.

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    When Not in Use, Turn Off the Juice

    Your computer and its peripherals - printers, speakers, etc. - use a energy even when idle or sleeping. So, once you have finished work for the day, be sure to switch everything off. Should you wish to go a step further, unplug the computer and peripherals as they continue to use a small amount of energy even when switched off (this will also help prevent your equipment being damaged by surges!). Remember too that computers and other electronic devices generate heat when on – and that can lead to extra spending on air conditioning!

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    Buy Green

    When the time comes to buy a new computer, choose an ENERGY STAR qualified product. See our Green Buyer Guide for more ideas on which computers offer more energy savings than other available computers on the market. Additionally, if you're looking to buy hardware for your business, consider buying from a company such as RICOM that specializes in selling refurbished equipment. Buying used is good for both the environment and your bottom line!

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    Instead of sending your old computer to landfill, recycle it. Charities such as the Little Geeks Foundation ( collect old computers and distribute them to underprivileged children. Look to see what recycling options are available in your city. See our article Computer Recycling: Don't Just Give It Away, Make Money for more ideas. And if you are considering giving your computer away, be sure to securely delete the data before doing so!

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    Upgrade Your Computer

    Do you really need to throw out your aging computer? Maybe upgrading would give it a new lease of life!

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    Use an Eco-Friendly Search Engine

    Some search engines, such as, donate a portion of their profits to environmental causes. Try one! They're easy to use and you'll be helping a worthwhile cause!

    While these steps may not lead to substantial savings, if enough people do them we can make our molehills into mountains!

Green Computing: Why Business Are Greening IT and What You Can Do To Help

This series of articles explains how businesses are using virtualization and other technologies to green their IT operations and explores some of the things that people can do to reduce the environmental impact of their own computer
  1. Energy Consumption of IT Departments and How Green IT Strategies Can Help the Environment
  2. Making Our Computers Greener: How to Reduce the Environmental Impact of Your Computer Usage