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How to compute green

Your technology may look clean, but it’s using up lots of power – and that means greenhouse gas emissions.


Here are some techniques for reducing your carbon footprint. The suggestions may sound old-hat, but they can make a difference.

  • Use power bars. So-called phantom power sucks energy even when your computer is off or cell phone isn’t in its charger. (A desktop PC uses about 2.8 watts when off.) By clicking off the bar when you’re not using your computers or charging your phone, that energy usage goes to zero.
  • Set power management settings. Your PC has built-in software that lets you set your monitor and hard drive to go to sleep after 15 minutes of inactivity. According to calculations from the US Environmental Protection agency, doing this for just one computer and monitor can save around $200 a year.
  • Power down. It’s not in any way dangerous for your hard drive to be shut down nightly. You’ll save about $40 a year in electricity doing this.
  • Print with Ecofont. It uses 25 percent less toner or ink and is perfect for drafts of large documents. Print double-sided and only when you really need to (the energy embedded in a printed piece of paper is enough to power a laptop for two hours).
  • Control your data. Erase old drafts of large documents and put old data and personal items like photos onto CDs for storage. It takes computing power and energy to keep this stuff on a hard-drive’s memory.
  • Go LCD. New flat screens use about half the amount of energy of old CRT monitors — 35 watts compared to an average of 80 watts. Ideally, choose an Energy Star monitor, which uses just 2 watts in sleep mode.
Diane Peters
Diane Peters is a Toronto-based writer and editor.
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