Friday, March 18, 2011

Power Management 101

It can be dangerous for me to be sick. Today I was voiceless and feeling ill. And bored.

Like any bored power-management obsessed person, I did some experiments. Using a "Kill A Watt EZ Electricity Usage Monitor" from P3 International Corporation, I measured the power used by three of the electronic devices I had at hand: an LCD Monitor, my family's "gaming" laptop, and my personal "thin/light" laptop. The results are in the spreadsheet clip below:

The takeaways:
  • No surprise, for all of the devices turning them off is the best and most efficient — and most affordable — thing to do when they're not in use.
  • The monitor:
    • If you turn down the brightness on your LCD monitor, you really do save some energy (those backlights are significant electricity consumers). How bright do you need to have your monitor in the place where you use it? Brighter isn't always needed.
    • If the computer that drives the monitor is off or even Suspended ("Sleeping"), turn off the monitor. There is a big difference between the "Off" and "On, no input" electricity use.
  • The laptops:
    • Here's the big pitch for power management. In both the high-end gaming laptop and the more modest thin/light model, Suspend will save half or more of the electricity consumed by the same laptop sitting in an idle, awake state. If the energy and cost savings aren't compelling to you, consider the total savings when you have 10 of these (in your small business) or 10,000 of them (in your enterprise).
    • Even better than Suspend is Hibernate. This really is the same as being "Off," but when you start it up again your desktop and applications will be right where you left them. If you avoid turning your computer completely off, because of inconvenience then Hibernating it might just fill the bill.
How much can you save without changing what you can get done? Quite a lot, actually.

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