"Go Green" Computer Tips
Customize the System
There are a handful of eco-friendly PC wallpapers and features out there. Try one out!
Use Power-Saving Settings
Windows has built-in power saving options that help the environment.
Keep Your PC Optimized
Make use of programs like System Mechanic to keep your system fresh.
Keeping your PC Green
- According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Western Sustainability and Pollution Prevention Network (WSPPN), Americans:
- Generate more than five billion pounds of computer waste. (EPA)
- Dump 82 percent of computers in landfills instead of recycling them; in 2007 alone, more than 40 million computers were dumped. (EPA)
- On average, discard their PC after only 30 months of use. (WSPPN)
How to Be a Green Computer User
Turn Off Your Monitor
Turn Off Your Screensaver
Use Energy-Saving Modes
So what’s the difference between standby and hibernate?
With standby mode, your PC uses very little power; some it’s still used, but the power to items such as your monitor and hard drive is cut. When you come back to your PC, you’ll be up and running quickly, but your computer will be using more energy than the hibernate mode.
With hibernate mode, your PC is not using any power at all. Of the two, this mode definitely saves the most energy, but the time it takes for everything to power up will be a bit longer.
TIP: An always-on PC not only uses energy; it can also take a big hit on performance. This is because a PC that’s always powered on saves data into memory—and when your PC is low on memory, everything suffers. To avoid this memory overload, restart your computer every few days and defragment the memory about once a month. Defragmentation reclaims valuable memory and improves PC efficiency, stability, and speed: performance goes up, energy usage goes down. Read more about how memory defragmentation improves performance.
Keep Your PC Tuned
For any of your appliances, proper maintenance reduces waste, and the same holds true for computers. Much like a car, a properly tuned computer can run more efficiently: a lean PC uses less electricity and performs much better.
Over time, PCs get bloated and inefficient: settings become outdated as you add and remove programs, clutter is left behind from web surfing, resource-hogging startup commands are needlessly running. This PC detritus that builds up through daily use acts like “friction” on your computer—and the end result is that everything your computer does requires more effort, takes more time, generates more heat, and wastes more power.
TIP: The common problems that can overtax your computer’s resources and waste energy can be easily resolved with a good PC tune-up software program. Read more about how PC tune-ups can reverse performance problems.
And an added benefit: by keeping your current PC in good running condition, you’ll also be able to hold on to it longer, saving you the costly expense of a new computer.
Recycle Your Old PC
Eventually, the day will come when you’re ready to say goodbye to your old computer. When that happens, rather than throwing your PC away and adding to the world’s growing waste problem, why not recycle it? Research by the EPA found that in 2007 only 15% of discarded computers were recycled. And many of the computers that ended up in landfills could have benefited our community by being donated to charities, schools, or other non-profit groups.
If you’re not sure where you can recycle or donate your computer, the non-profit organization TechSoup provides links to recycling and refurbishing resources that accept computer donations: www.techsoup.org/recycle/donate.
NOTE: Before you give your computer away, it’s critical that you securely delete all your personal information. Just deleting files, or even formatting the drive, isn’t enough—someone using easily available software can still recover the files. To securely delete your information, use data wiping software, which uses overwrite technologies that prevent data from being recovered.
If you’re in the market for a new PC, do some research before you buy: many computer manufacturers, including Dell, HP, Acer, and others, now offer “green” models that use less energy, have more reusable/rechargeable components, or use recycled material.
And your best bet may be to choose a laptop over a desktop. In order to optimize battery usage, most laptops have energy-efficient features built-in: a laptop can use up to 50% less electricity than a desktop machine.
TIP: If you only use your computer at home, you could consider setting up your laptop like a desktop, with a “full size” monitor, mouse, and keyboard attached.