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Computer & Office Equipment: Use & Care

Use & Care

Computers: Take the Night Off

Turn your computer off at night. Turning it off will save energy, and won’t harm the hardware.

Down Time: Shutting Down

Turn your monitor off if you will not be working for more than 20 minutes continuously, and shut down your computer if you’ll be away for more than two hours. Otherwise, leave it on — the initial power surge of re-starting may use more energy. Also, since screensavers don’t actually save power, set a short screen saver setting preference to allow your computer to enter sleep mode faster. If your computer is communicating with auxiliary devices such as fax machines, it will stay in active mode and not switch to sleep mode as quickly, so setting a shorter screen saver setting preference will help in this case.

Scare Off “Phantom Energy”

Keep all electronics in your home office connected to a surge protector. Turn the protector off at night to prevent the use of  “phantom energy,” the accumulated energy used to power the small “standby” or “off” lights on devices. If some electronics must stay on, plug them into a separate outlet.

Monitors: Look on the Bright Side

Not Too Bright

Lower the brightness on your monitor to a comfortable level. New monitors are often set to a higher brightness than necessary. CNET’s website shows results from tests which concluded that changing the brightness is more important than just about any other energy-saving setting for your monitor.

Cool & Clean

Keep the cooling vents on your computer clean. Dust clogged vents don't work as efficiently, which can potentially cause your central processing unit (CPU) to overheat.

Power Down

The best and easiest way to save energy in your home office is to enable the power-management options on your computer, printer, and multifunction machines (MFM). While these settings could save as much as 60% to 80% of the energy used by computers, they’re usually disabled on brand new computers and require the user to enable them.1 Both ENERGY STAR® and CNET’s websites provide directions on how to use computer power-management settings.

CNET Guidelines on Power Management Settings for Laptops

  On battery Plugged in
Turn off the display 5 minutes 15 minutes
Put the computer to sleep 10 minutes 30 minutes
Adjust screen brightness 50 % 75 to 100 %

Donate & Recycle

If your computer is less than 5 years old, consider donating it to a school or non-profit organization. Computers and electronics are made of materials that may be harmful to people and the environment if not disposed of properly so recycling them is a good way to go, especially since some computer  parts are valuable or resource-intensive materials that shouldn’t be wasted. Visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s eCycling website to find local organizations and donate or recycle your old electronics.

Buyer’s Guide

Before you shop for efficiency upgrades, visit the Computer & Office Equipment Buyer’s Guide for easy facts and figures that can help you choose the best electronics for your home office, needs and budget.

Overview

If you’re thinking about making efficiency improvements, the Computer & Office Equipment Overview is a great place to get acquainted with the basics and your options, before you buy electronics for your home office.

1Goorskey, S. Smith, A., & Wang, K. (2004). Rocky Mountain Institute’s Home Energy Briefs #7 Electronics. Washington, DC:  ACEEE. Retrieved September 28, 2012, from http://www.rmi.org/rmi/pid217. (p. 1).

This program is funded by California utility customers and administered by Southern California Edison under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission.