Do you have a green computer? You might think that a computer doesn’t consume a lot of power. It is just a small box. You might be surprised to learn that a desktop PC consumes 200 to 400 watts of power. Add a 30-inch monitor and add another 750 watts. A refrigerator only consumes about 725 watts. Surprised? Running a green computer isn’t just about power consumption. The EPA cautions consumers that the short lifespan of an average computer combined with the toxic chemicals used to build parts means that the toxic effects of disposing of computers are extremely high.
80 Plus power supplies
The first way to run a green computer is to look for an 80 Plus compatible power supply. These power supplies provide only the energy necessary to function. For example, if you have a 600 watt power supply but your computer requires only 250 watts to run, an 80 Plus power supply will provide 250 watts.
Most conventional power supplies provide more power than a computer needs to run. This wasted energy adds to significant electrical bills, so using an energy efficient 80 Plus power supply saves a ton of money over the course of a year. As an added benefit, the 80 Plus Power Supplies comply with the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive and are lead free. Other manufacturers are starting to follow suit and launch green power supplies, so check the market frequently to see what’s available.
Choose lead-free components
Building a green computer isn’t just about choosing a green power supply. Lead and other toxic chemicals are found in almost all computer parts made in the United States, although the European Union has developed a set of regulations governing toxic materials in computer products. Intel released its first lead-free microprocessors in late 2007, followed by lead-free Ethernet adapters. Unfortunately, many of the other manufacturers that supply computer parts to the United States have not yet done the same, and it is still extremely difficult to build a completely lead-free computer.
Until manufacturers transition to lead-free components, using a green computer means recycling materials used in construction. Be sure to properly dispose of and recycle your lead parts. Contact your local officials or waste management specialists for information on computer recycling and hazardous waste disposal in your area. A great way to build a green computer is to buy reconditioned or remanufactured parts and components. Rather than being wasted, those products can reach you, the consumer, at a reduced cost. You get a green computer and save money, compared to the cost of buying new components.
Look for green manufacturers
With increasing demands for energy efficiency, many computer manufacturers are now offering eco-friendly computers with energy-efficient power supplies and components. Computer manufacturers advertising low-power computers and laptops include Dell, Fujitsu, HP, and Lenovo. Until lead-free components really take off in America, the greenest computer you can get is an energy efficient model from one of these manufacturers.
An easy way to go green with a computer is to use its built-in settings. Both Windows and Macintosh computers include power management features that put the computer, hard drive, and monitor into a low-power sleep mode after a preset period of inactivity. For optimal energy efficiency, choose power management settings of 15 minutes of inactivity or less. When you move the mouse or press any key on the computer, the power management mode is disabled and the monitor, hard drive, and computer are ready for use in a few seconds. Look for this feature on monitors too to maximize energy savings.
Downsizing is another good way to green a computer. Laptops use much less power than desktop computers; 40 to 50 watts compared to 200 to 400, respectively. A smaller flat panel monitor also contributes to a green computer, as power consumption increases rapidly with the size of the monitor.
Look for the Energy Star
The Energy Star program administered by the US government provides guidelines for the energy consumption of most electronic devices. To earn an Energy Star, a computer must offer the lowest power consumption available in sleep, standby, and full use modes. For monitors, a formula based on screen size is used to determine power consumption, but all qualifying monitors must use 2 watts of power or less in sleep mode and 1 watt of power or less when in sleep mode. turned off.
Searching for Energy Star will help you choose an environmentally friendly computer and monitor, but you will find a limited number of options available. Most computers and monitors available today are not Energy Star eligible, but manufacturers are working to reduce power consumption. You may pay more upfront for a green computer, but the investment will pay off over time in energy savings and the knowledge that you are helping to take care of the environment.