Going green with your IT equipment

There are numerous ways to cut your electronic kit's power consumption, which helps to reduce how much you spend on your electric bills each month and, perhaps more importantly, reduces your carbon footprint on the planet. Want to know more? Read on as Windows explains how you can go green...

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By  Jason Saundalkar Published  August 4, 2008

There are numerous ways to cut your electronic kit's power consumption, which helps to reduce how much you spend on your electric bills each month and, perhaps more importantly, reduces your carbon footprint on the planet. Want to know more? Read on as Windows explains how you can go green...

The environment and our impact on the planet is the talk of the moment now, and rightfully so. We have very real evidence (warmer temperatures, reduced ice at the North and South poles) that the Earth can no longer tolerate our drain on resources without serious consequences.

The primary issue is climate change which is fuelled by the amount of harmful greenhouse gases we dump into our atmosphere. Greenhouse gases are produced by a number of different entities but one of the biggest producers of this gas is the power stations which rely on fossil fuels like coal and oil.

The United States is said to derive about 50% of its power from coal-burning power plants and it is said that over 50,000 coal plants run in the world today.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has gone on record saying that, following current trends, fossil fuel power stations will provide 85% of the world's energy by the year 2030.

It's obvious then, that all this talk about adopting cleaner power plants or using renewable energy is still a while off yet. However, there's is a lot you can do to reduce your impact on the planet by buying and working smart.

Earth hour

You can help spread awareness about the need for action to combat global warming by spreading the word as well as participating in ‘Earth Hour'.

This is now a global event held each year for exactly one hour on the last Saturday of March. The concept is simple:switch off your lights, as well as every other unnecessary electrical appliance, for exactly one hour to save power and reduce the demand on power stations.

The event first took place in Sydney, Australia back in 2007 and in March of this year, it officially became a global event with support coming from various cities across all seven continents.

Locally, Dubai's Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) reported power savings of 100-megawatt-hours of power was saved, a 2.4% reduction compared with before the hour began. The Bangkok Post reported that Earth Hour prevented 102 tonnes of carbon dioxide from making it into the atmosphere.

Head to www.earthhour.org for more information.

All of the electrical appliances and computer kit found in homes and offices consumes power and it's these that contribute to the demand for more power. Optimising these products or even replacing them with newer, more efficient kit can help to reduce your power consumption and electricity bills.

Power supply primer

A computer's power supply (PSU) is responsible for taking the power delivered at the mains socket and converting it into smaller, useable amounts for every component and peripheral that's hooked up to your PC.

However, as with anything related to energy, the conversion process isn't 100% efficient. This means PSUs need to draw more power from the wall socket, rather than the identical amount your components actually need. (The extra power is normally dissipated as heat, which is another form of energy.) For a PSU to deliver 800-watts of power to your components for instance, it may actually need to draw closer to 950-watts from the wall.

The efficiency of a PSU depends on its build quality, age, operating temperature and load. A PSU that uses quality internal components is more efficient because it will run cooler and may offer less internal resistance, which in turn means less power is lost.

As PSUs get older, they lose efficiency no matter how well they're looked after. So if you're running a PSU that's older than three years and it has been run constantly, consider replacing it.

Power supplies work best in environments where the room temperature is under 40-degrees Celsius. You need to ensure that enough cool air is passing through your chassis or you or you can expect significantly reduced power efficiency or even total PSU failure.

The amount of load on the PSU is also very important. Most manufacturers say that their models are most efficient when they are running at between 50% and 75% of their maximum wattage load. Thus it's very important to pick the right wattage PSU for your rig.

Fitting your PC with a 1000-watt model when it only really needs 300-watts will likely result in the PSU operating at an efficiency of less than 75%. Opting for a 500-watt model in this case would be a far smarter choice as it would run more efficiently and save a lot of money in the process.

On the flipside, efficiency can take a dive if the PSU is overtaxed. Normally when a PSU is operating near or at its maximum rated load it will run warmer which bumps up its internal resistance, which makes it run even warmer and directly affects its efficiency.

If you've got a rig that's packed to the brim with kit, check to ensure that your PSU is operating at no more than 75% of its maximum capacity or else invest in a larger capacity model.

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