Power Management Myths Explained

It's often difficult to decipher myth from truth when it comes to energy consumption and green technology. Take note of a few common green technology myths and learn what you can do to reduce your computer's carbon footprint.

Does turning my computer off use more energy than leaving it on?

The timeless question is finally answered. The surge of power when a computer is turned off lasts a few seconds and is insignificant compared to the sustained energy used in keeping it on during periods of inactivity. Go ahead and shut down your computer overnight and on the weekends; you'll be doing yourself and Mother Nature a huge favor.

Is it bad to turn off my computer every day?

Did you know that modern computers are designed to handle 40,000 on/off cycles? Stop thinking that you're doing more damage to your computer by turning it off, because you're not. Reduce unnecessary heat stress, wear, and energy use on your system, and turn it off when you're not around.

What's the difference between "system standby," "hibernate," "monitor power management," and "turn off hard disks"?

There are four basic types of computer power management, or "sleep" features on Windows PCs:

  • "System standby"
    • Drops monitor and computer power use down to 1–3 watts each
    • Wakes up in seconds
    • Saves $25–75 per PC annually
  • "System hibernates"
    • Drops monitor and computer power use down to 1–3 watts each
    • Wakes up in 20+ seconds
    • Saves work in the event of power loss
    • Saves $25–75 per PC annually
  • "Turn off monitor"
    • Drops monitor power use down to 1–3 W
    • Wakes in seconds or less
    • Saves half as much as system standby or hibernate: about $10–40
  • "Turn off hard disks"
    • Saves very little energy

Are network connections really lost when a computer goes into low-power or sleep mode?

Want to have your computer go to sleep and still stay connected to your network? No problem. Newer computers are designed to sleep on networks to prevent loss of data or connection. Computers with Wake on LAN (WOL) technology built-in to network cards can be left in sleep mode overnight to wake up and receive data packets sent to the unit.

Screen savers save energy, right?

Many people are fooled by the moniker screen saver, and rightfully so. But note that screen savers were originally designed to help protect the lifespan of monochrome monitors which are now technologically obsolete. Most screen savers do not save energy unless they actually turn off the screen or, in the case of laptops, turn off the backlight. Visit Properties > Screen Savers > Power to alter power management and screen saver settings.

The configuration is correct and all the settings are showing up in the control panel on the machines, why are the computers not going into standby?

There are three main reasons that your computer could be behaving in this manner:

  1. In some instances, old drivers or generic drivers are not compatible with sleep settings and will not allow the computer to sleep. All drivers should be updated and generic drivers should be removed.
  2. In some instances, there may be a subset of computers that are not consistently sleeping. In those cases, evaluate if a unique piece of software is on these machines exists. If so, that software may be the cause. Contact the software maker and see if there are updates available that are compatible with sleep settings.
  3. In some instances, computers may appear to be randomly not sleeping. In these cases, look for:
    1. a file open on the network;
    2. something causing too much activity on the CPU (complex screen savers, software running in the background, etc.)

Source: ENERGY STAR

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