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The PC Energy Report 2007 (United States)

By Jos
Jul 3, 2007
  1. Wasting Energy While We Sleep

    You wouldn’t leave your television on all day while you are at the office, and yet, across the country, millions of work PCs are left on all night—wasting energy, costing owners millions in utility costs, and contributing to global climate change.

    A mid-sized company wastes more than $165,000 a year in electricity costs for computers that have been left on overnight. By turning these computers off, an employer can keep more than 1,381 tons of carbon dioxide (C0) out of the atmosphere. Across the nation, this adds up to more than $1.72 billion dollars and almost 15 million tons of CO2. Few problems match an impact so large with a solution so simple.

    A computer uses energy even when it appears to be idle. Reducing that waste can help businesses reduce costs and prevent tons of damaging greenhouse gases from being emitted into our atmosphere.
    Ideally, everybody would shut down their PCs at the end of a working day. Research we have commissioned from Harris Interactive shows that this doesn’t always happen. Some people assume their IT departments need their machines to be left on overnight in order to deploy security patches and software updates. Others believe an on-board “sleep” or “hibernation” mode kicks in, which isn’t usually the case. And an alarming number of people admit that they just don’t care.

    To help companies and organizations gain tighter control of their energy consumption, software solutions and service provider 1E teamed up with the Alliance to Save Energy (ASE) to examine PC power usage in the American workplace. In this report, you will find current statistics on energy usage and CO2 emissions, alongside our research on behavior in American workplaces, i.e. whether employees are shutting their PCs off at the end of the day, why, and why not.

    You will also learn about power management tools used by large private and public sector organizations, which save energy during the day and overnight through centralized control over power usage of corporate PCs.

    It is evident from the findings of this report that worker apathy and insufficient business systems are the cause for wasting a tremendous amount of energy, and that government programs to address this waste are still in their infancy.

    Fortunately, there are tools available to make a difference right now.

    Summary of Key Findings

    • 104 million office PCs: As of April 2007, 145,800,000 Americans have full-time jobs. According to the survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of 1E, 72 percent of all employed adults regularly use a PC for work purposes at their jobs. Combining these findings suggests that more than 104 million workers reach the end of the work day with a PC to shut off—or not to.

    • On all night: Of those 104 million employed adults who regularly use a PC at work, as many as 60 percent (62.4 million) don’t always shut them down at the end of the day. Twenty percent (20.8 million) “never” shut down.

    • Millions in the balance: From 1E’s May 2007 poll, which revealed that 50 percent of PC users have “hibernation” or “sleep” modes enabled, we can assume that companies across the U.S. are wasting $1.72 billion to supply power to PCs that are not always shut down. This figure is based on a conservative estimate of 14.5 hours (9.00-6.30 working day) for the overnight period with the assumption that computers have no power management features enacted. Under this scenario, a single company with 10,000 PCs wastes more than $165,000 a year. One large financial institution that worked with 1E determined that shutting PCs down every night saves $3 million a year in electricity costs alone.

    • More power, more CO2: Over the course of a year, generating the power to leave a computer on overnight creates 920 pounds of CO2. If 60 percent of the country’s work PCs are used this way — and 50 percent use “hibernation” or “sleep” mode — then 14.4 million tons of carbon dioxide is being pumped into the atmosphere each year, needlessly. Preventing that amount of CO2 from reaching the atmosphere would have roughly the same impact as taking 2.58 million passenger cars — more than exist in the entire State of Maryland (2.48 million) — off the road entirely.

    • Into the woods: It takes between 60 and 300 trees to absorb the yearly CO2 emissions generated by a single PC left on 24 hours a day. That means it would take between 1.24 and 6.24 billion trees to absorb the emissions caused by the nation’s office computers that are never shut down.

    Download the full PC Energy Report 2007 here (pdf).
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