Healthcare And Computer Energy Savings – Turn them off and save money

That is right – turn off your computer when not using it and the medical world could save millions of $$$. Why don’t they energy manage their data networks? Because they don’t have to, they think they are Gods.


Computer power management

What’s the big deal?

Research shows that personal computers (PC) are not being actively used during the vast majority of the time that they are kept on.  It is estimated that an average PC is in use 4 hours each work day and idle for another 5.5 hours.  It’s also estimated that some 30-40 percent of the US’s work PCs are left running at night and on weekends.

Office equipment is the fastest growing electricity load in the commercial sector.  Computer systems are believed to account for 10 percent or more of commercial electricity consumption already.  Since computer systems generate waste heat, they also increase the amount of electricity necessary to cool office spaces.  (Yes, they lower the cost of heating somewhat.  That’s not a big factor in Miami.)

For the Medical Center, we estimate the savings from PC power management to be hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, even without factoring in increased office cooling costs.  Considerable savings are also possible from easing wear-and-tear on the computers themselves.

If you’d like to make a savings calculation for yourself or your organization — on electricity, dollars, trees, CO2 emissions — you can do that here.

Isn’t this “automatic” on most computers?

Almost all computers and monitors sold in the US today come with ENERGY-STAR energy-saving features.  But they generally don’t work unless you set them.

Both Windows and Apple/Mac systems allow you to set the amount of idle time that occurs before the system goes into “standby” or “sleep”  mode:

  • On Microsoft (Windows) systems, times are set in the Power Options section of the Control Panel.  Get there by the following path: Start > [My Computer >] Control Panel > [Performance and Maintenance >] Power Options.
  • On Apple (OS X) systems, standby and power option settings are set under System Preferences.  Go there and then select Energy Saver.

Standby/sleep modes are suitable for when your computer is idle for an hour or more.  A full system shut-down and power-off is appropriate at the end of the work day.

Will power management hurt my computer?

It’s a myth that turning computers off and on shortens their lives — unless you turn them off many, many, many times every day.  It’s also a myth that starting the computer requires a lot of “extra energy”: it actually only takes the equivalent of a few seconds of running time power.

Computers generate a lot of heat — principally from their central processor units (CPU).  Allowing a “cool down” during a power-off period will generally increase the life span of the entire system.  Allowing your computer to rest its moving parts, like the spinning hard drive, cooling fans, etc., will tend to increase the life-span of those components.

The reboot of the system that takes place when power is restored has another positive effect.  Many software patches and upgrades require a reboot to be fully installed and functional.  A computer that is only rarely rebooted may lag behind on software updates, and accordingly be more vulnerable to malware attacks.

Is there any downside to power management?

Obviously you have to consider the value of your time too.  A fully powered-down “off” computer takes a considerably longer time to restore to operational status than one in stand-by mode.  One in stand-by takes longer to restore than one that is fully on — although not much longer.

We’re not recommending you turn your system entirely off unless you plan to be away from it for a long time — such as at the end of the work day.  We do recommend setting a sleep/stand-by mode for when your system is idle for 30-60 minutes or more.

Unless your system is controlling an ongoing process, such as running/monitoring laboratory equipment, there is usually no good reason to leave it on when you are away for extended periods.  And many good reasons not to.

How does power management work?

Power management savings come from reducing hardware power to sleep levels when the computer is not fully active.   Idle-ness is defined by an absence of mouse or keyboard activity (and no on-going processes for applications) for a set time period.


That’s right they saved hundreds of thousands of $$$. So how many Medical Centers like this exist? Well how many Major Universities are there in the US. That is right…hundreds of millions of $$$$


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