Council coder wipes £40,000 off energy bill

A few lines of code written by a diligent IT employee is set to save Staffordshire County Council as much as £40,000 in energy costs annually.

IT support team leader Peter Kear wrote some code around utilities included in Microsoft operating systems – the council uses XP and 2000 – in order to help him run patch management, part of which often requires machines to restart.

“The easiest thing to do was make sure they shutdown at the end of the day,” he says. Aside from making patch management easier, the council has reaped the added benefit of energy savings and is set to save £40,000 annually just by shutting down computers rather than leaving them on or in hibernation mode, Kear claims.

Before Kear sat down and wrote the code, around 500 to 600 computers of the council’s 8,000 machines would be left on overnight or at weekends. Now, any machine left on is automatically shut down at 8pm every night.

The program has now been rolled out across 6,000 council computers, with the majority of the remaining 2,000 to be included by the end of the summer.

While not all computers can be included, the programme features an exclusion list to allow for overnight workers. “There are some machines which have to stay on,” Kear says. “Social services have 24-hour offices and others are leaving reports or science experiments running overnight.”

In addition, it detects if a machine is inside the network or being used via an external broadband connection, so teleworkers won’t see their home PC shutting down come 8pm, when the program runs.

If any council worker is at their desk late, a message will come up on their computer 10 minutes ahead of shutdown, letting them cancel it in order to keep working, Kear adds.

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