Shut Windows to save power, urges industry

Computer energy bills could be slashed by up to 40 per cent if Windows had its power management settings turned on by default, according to a leading environmentalist.

Shut Windows to save power, urges industry

“PCs consume 96% of their power in on-idle mode,” said Catriona McAlister, senior consultant for AEA Energy & Environment, speaking at an Intel discussion on energy efficient computing. “You could save 40% of annual energy consumption just by turning on power management on PCs and monitors.”

McAlister, who has been involved in the implementation of the Energy Star label for ICT equipment, said it made sense for Windows power management features to be turned on at the point of manufacture, “as long as users had the option to turn it off.” Intel agreed it would make an enormous difference to power consumption. “Having it [power management] shipped ‘on’ makes sense. Otherwise, all across the city you’ve got computers on all night, just waiting in case there’s a patch to download,” said Gordon Graylish, vice president of Intel EMEA.

However, other experts warned of unexpected side effects of over-zealous power management. “Tips like turning off PCs overnight are great, but if you can’t update your anti-virus overnight, you’re putting extra risk into your business,” said Karl Deacon, vice president and outsourcing chief technology officer at CapGemini.

On a wider note, the panel agreed that industry-wide power consumption metrics were required to allow consumers and IT managers to make more informed choices when purchasing equipment. To that effect, a new version of the Energy Star label will be launched next year to cover both PCs and monitors, where only the top 25% most energy efficient equipment will qualify.

Intel says this will help reduce the chaos of each manufacturer applying its own energy consumption benchmarks. “We absolutely do not want the confusion, it’s critical we do get this standardisation,” said Graylish.

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