Users urged to switch off for savings

Big computer users are being urged to make sure PCs are switched off at the end of the day and even if systems are unused for as short as 15 minutes, in a bid to save power.

Big computer users are being urged to make sure PCs are switched off at the end of the day and even if systems are unused for as short as 15 minutes, in a bid to save power.

The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority makes several power saving suggestions for IT departments:

  • Modern hardware can withstand being turned on and off several times a day without risking damage to components

  • Screen savers don’t save power

  • Laptops use less power than desktop PCs

  • Inkjet printers use significantly less power than laser printers
While IT departments up and down the country are doing what they can to contribute to power savings, there are limits to what can be done.

Ian Bell, IT manager at Richmond, says the meat processor and exporter is encouraging staff to turn off PCs and laptops, rather than just logging off. The company has set a power saving target and IT is doing its bit by encouraging that practice and by enabling sleep mode on printers and photocopiers.

When it comes to higher end gear, options are limited, however.

“We run a 24x7 data centre and there’s not much we can do, because even in the early hours of the morning, we do hot back-ups and we can’t go switching servers on and off.

“We have offices in Brussels and London and a single data centre worldwide; they’re utilising the servers while we’re asleep.”

Transpower spokesman Chris Roberts says the national grid operator has a 15% power savings target across the company, and while the IT department hasn’t been “targeted particularly”, all staff are being encouraged to take saving measures with PCs and other hardware.

“There are a number of IT instructions for staff, including turning computers off at the end of the day or when they leave the office for any length of time. Staff have been asked to reset screen savers to five minutes and printers and photocopiers are turned off fully at the end of the day.”

At the higher end, options for power savings are limited, “as we fully use our servers and we have a number of programmes running the national grid that run seven days a week, 24 hours a day, so we can’t close them down.”

For UPS supplier Power Technology Components, it’s a case of clients boosting existing systems, rather than buying new ones, power systems manager Hamish Littin says.

“There has been an increase in demand for expansion packs for longer running times.

“Most of our clients have been upping the number of batteries or replacing batteries in older units.”

However, another supplier, HPS Techologies, has seen “very little” increase in demand for units in relation to the prospect of power cuts later in the year, manager Tim White says.

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