Go green

Inspired by Gore? Want to do more? Read on to learn how to compute in an environmentally friendly way.

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By  Matthew Wade Published  February 1, 2008

And here's a reason to upgrade to Vista: according to Microsoft's own well-documented research, you can, on average, chop your PC's cost of ownership by $73 a year, using Vista compared to XP (due to its more intelligent power management system). That doesn't include any monitor use.

• Should you need to leave a PC process running when you leave the house, you can also employ a software program to shut down your PC at a pre-determined time (meaning your rig doesn't have to run and run just because you're not there to switch it off). Download the appropriately named ‘Shutdown After' from www.vcsoftwares.com/sa.

• Reduce the number of times you recharge your laptop by helping its battery last longer. The best program for this job - which claims to cut power usage by 70%! - is called ‘Vista Battery Saver' and it's downloadable from www.softpedia.com.

2. Screen sense

If your PC screen saver turns on and remains on for more than five minutes, then you're wasting energy. That's because contrary to popular belief, screen savers were designed to save the phosphors in your CRT monitor's screen, not to save energy, but even this phosphor worry isn't really a concern with newer monitors (especially flat-panel LCD screens).

A screen saver that displays moving images causes your monitor to consume as much electricity as it does when in active use; rather than the fewer watts it will churn through in sleep mode.

As such, we suggest you deactivate your screen saver (via the Start/Control Panel/Display dialog), and instead enable Windows' power management settings.

3. Paper potential

It's so easy to waste reams of office paper, and therefore cash too, yet it doesn't have to be this way. In fact it's very simple to chop the amount of precious pulp you chew. Follow these steps:

• Give employees easy access to paper recycling bins. Most building managers will be able to supply such bins (or at least empty those you buy in) if asked. If not, petition them to get with the program.

Note: it must be at least as convenient for staff to throw their used paper sheets in a recycling bin as it would be for them to hit a normal ‘waste' bin. If in doubt, limit the number of normal bins so that recycling becomes the norm rather than the exception.

• Set your home or office's printers to print in duplex (double-sided mode) by default. Depending on the type of printers or multifunction copiers in question, this can either be set-up via a printer's driver software (in other words, you'll need to configure this via that software from each client PC), or on the machine itself (usually in the case of all-in-one printer/copier devices).

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