In some ways, the carbon footprints of computers may seem to be negated by the energy-saving impacts of all our computer usage. Every email saves the paper and energy costs of mailing a letter across town or the world.
However, it takes plenty of energy to run all our computers, many of which are running 24 hours per day. Servers in particular can be significant energy hogs, and they are likely to never be switched off.
A recent study also shows that computer spam is also energy-intensive. Many of us get less junk snail mail with the advent of spam, but the volume of spam messages far outweighs the former volume of junk mail in most households.
A recent McAfee analysis estimates the annual energy used to transmit, process and filter spam totals 33 billion kilowatt-hours, equal to the electricity used in 2.4 million homes.
Unfortunately, your PC can do little to fight the crushing volume of spam, but it can be designed to use less energy during regular operation and in standby modes.