Adam Turner
Technology Journalist

Adam Turner is a Sydney Morning Herald senior technology columnist who has been writing about the challenges facing Australian business for more than a decade

Adam Turner
Technology Journalist

Adam Turner is a Sydney Morning Herald senior technology columnist who has been writing about the challenges facing Australian business for more than a decade

Office equipment can account for 15 to 30 per cent of the overall energy bill of your business and with the escalating use of computers, tablets and smartphones, it’s a no-brainer to start assessing and reducing your IT energy usage to save money.

Regardless of your set-up, switching IT equipment off overnight is an easy way to reduce costs. It’s a common myth that leaving machines on saves more power than switching them off and on again. Only critical equipment, such as servers and back-up drives, should be left on. You can turn computers, monitors, laptops and printers off at the power point while not in use. 

 Keyboard with a broken key and a screwdriver next to it.

Manage your monitors

Another myth is that screen savers save energy. They don’t! And they might prevent your computer from entering sleep mode. Disable them on all your computers to save energy (see energycut.info/energy-star-faq).

LED flat screens consume less energy than LCD screens, and you can now buy portable lightweight computer monitors that are powered by a USB 3.0 port. Plug them into a laptop or desktop computer for a cheap and energy-efficient second screen. For the best performance, choose a high resolution monitor (1920 x 1080).

Also, turn your monitor off when you are going to be away for more than a few minutes.

Putting your computers to sleep

Using a desktop computer and monitor for eight hours a day during the week can cost up to $125 in electricity each year. Put your computer to sleep when you go out by changing the setting to standby or hibernate mode after 30 minutes or less of inactivity. A sleeping computer uses as little as 10 per cent of full power. 

How much can you save by changing your energy usage?

  1. 30–90 per cent by using a laptop instead of a desktop computer
  2. 10 per cent by turning off equipment
  3. 30-65 per cent by using computers with an ENERGY STAR label

Keep it cool

IT equipment can get hot, so some systems contain cooling fans. The harder those fans have to work, the more power they use, so don’t leave IT gear in unventilated cupboards or next to heat-producing machines. It also makes financial sense to have the fans regularly cleaned. 

Save on print costs

Email a document instead of printing it. You’ll save on printer energy costs as well as the price of paper, postage and cartridge consumables. If you do need to print, save your jobs and print them in a large batch. 

Did you know?

Turning off your computer at night does not damage it. Computers are designed to handle about 40,000 on/off cycles before causing a fault. This means you could turn off your computer every night for 109 years.

Use the cloud

Using appropriate cloud software may also provide savings. In some instances, the software is free. Try free file-sharing software such as Google Docs to collaborate remotely with other team members, saving on office and transport costs. Email scanned documents using download link services such as DropBox and Hightail, avoiding couriers, postage, paper and printer ink costs. Digitally sign contracts using applications such as Adobe e-Sign. Storing data on an off-site cloud service also means you don’t need a server running on site, so you save both power and the money you would have spent on the server. 

Want to learn more about the latest tech trends?

Read our write up of The Latest Technology From CES 2016.

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