UK PC Users Are Greener Than Americans


PC users in Britain are more likely than those in the US to switch off PCs for environmental reasons. But there is still a long way to go in reducing wasted power

Nearly a third of UK PC users cite concern for the environment as the main reason for powering down their PC at night compared to around 10 percent of US users according to new research.

Released this week, the 2009 PC Energy Report from the Alliance to Save Energy and Windows management specialist IE, revealed that although UK computer users may be more environmentally motivated than their US counterparts, there is still a lot more that could be done to improve the energy efficiency of PC usage.

According to the survey, if the 17 million workers in the UK who regularly use a computer turned the machine off at night, it could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by around 1.3 million tons – equivalent to removing 245,000 cars from the road. From a financial perspective, the report also claimed that powering down a PC can reduce a machine’s energy useby 80 percent, allowing companies to save more than £26 per desktop PC.

“Powering down inactive PCs can provide a simple yet effective way for businesses to reduce overhead costs and environmental impact,” said Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy. “The economic crisis and volatile energy prices make it even more imperative for businesses to save money by saving energy.”

The most common response from US office workers when questioned about why they shut down their machine at night was to ensure the machine continued to work properly, according to the report.

The report also showed that around three in ten workers in the UK do not always power down their PC when they have finished working for the day. For a UK business with 10,000 computers, leaving all the machines on overnight would equate to avoidable costs of £168,000 and 828 tonnes of CO2 per year.

“Employers today have a golden opportunity to demonstrate their environmental and financial leadership by taking a few simple,
energy-saving measures, like setting up processes to power down PCs,” said Sumir Karayi, chief executive officer, 1E. “A computer uses energy even when it appears to be idle. Shutting down PCs when not in use will help businesses to significantly reduce costs while preventing tons of CO2 from being emitted into our atmosphere.”

The report also cited the example of the UK Department for Children, Schools and Families. By enforcing the automatic powering down of PCs overnight and at the weekends, the department has seen a reduction of 35,290 kg of C02, and savings of 53,960kW of electricity.

But despite the energy efficiencies that can be gained from switching off PCs, some green experts have pointed out that the environmental impact of PCs is also linked to the resources used in manufacture.