How green is your computer?

How green is your computer?

Reducing carbon emissions is the order of the day. From spiralling fuel prices to global warming, almost everything seems to be forcing us to quit our energy-intensive, pollution-causing habits. As we blame gas guzzling SUVs and electricity-thirsty plasma screens, we don’t even notice the little power consuming gadgets that quietly contribute to the growing menace. But there is a way of retaining computing power while cutting electricity bills and reducing our carbon footprint:

1. The next time you buy a computer or laptop, check if it is Energy Star rated. Most electric and electronic devices, from household devices to nifty netbooks — are usually Energy Star compliant. This means that they use about 20-30% less energy than their non-rated brethren.

2. Also check if the device is RoHS (restriction of hazardous substances directive) compliant. This is usually mentioned both on the box and the body of the device. Although RoHS isn’t related directly to electricity use, what it means is that your device carries very little of toxic substances. This ensures that when you dispose of an electronic device, it doesn’t leak harmful toxins into the soil.

3. Once your computer is ready for use, make sure you plug it in only when you want to use it. Even if your device is switched off, there is always some power leakage if it’s plugged into the power supply.

4. Don’t leave your computer on 24 hours a day, and don’t leave it connected to the charger when the battery is already fully charged. While the former ensures that power isn’t needlessly wasted, the latter will help the batteries last longer while giving optimum power. This is especially important as batteries contain toxic chemicals that are notoriously difficult to dispose of.

Also Read: Previous Toolkit columns

5. All computers and laptops have various energy settings. These can be accessed through the little battery icon present on the right hand corner of the window’s bar. You can use this setting to minimize the amount of power your computer uses. Switching off the screen when it’s idle for more than 5 minutes or switching off hard disks when not in use for more than 15 minutes ensures that less power is consumed without compromising on productivity.

6. Download any of the many energy-saving tools available on the Internet. These tools, usually free, help you keep track of where your computer’s energy is being wasted.

7. Check your computer’s brightness. Reducing a monitor’s brightness can significantly reduce the amount of electricity it uses.

8. Screen savers are a complete waste of energy. Instead, change your power settings so that every time your computer is idle for too long, it goes into “hibernation" or “sleep mode".

9. It is very important to dispose of your computer responsibly. In the case of old computers, check if any of your friends or family can use some components. Companies such as Dell and HP now take your old computers if you buy a new one from them. This way you can ensure that your computer won’t make it straight into a landfill.

10. Contact e-Parisaraa (www.ewasteindia.in/obj.asp), a Bangalore-based e-waste disposal company and send them your old computer.