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Power Saving Tips

Technology uses a lot of energy. Save some money and go green with your technology and these power saving tips.

Lets limit the impact our actions have on future generations by reducing our energy consumption.

Set the computer to turn on before you arrive to work

Our first power saving tip is to set the computer to automatically start in the morning. If you work a regular day job and can predict your schedule easily then this tip is for you. Most computers have the ability to start on a preset time. This setting is found in the systems BIOS, or firmware UEFI settings. This setting may be called “Wake on RTC”. If you are unsure, give your computer manufacturer or favorite technician a call and they can help you out.

Laptops are much more energy efficient than desktop computers. However, they are a compromise and do not have the highest performing specs.

Setting this to have the computer start 1 hour before your workday begins, ensures that all the startup work, virus scans etc. can occur before you sit down with your coffee, ready to work.

This doesn’t seem like a green setting, but what it does is allows you to shutdown the computer completely at night and start in the morning with a fresh boot and not have to wait for updates to apply in the morning.

*The exception on this setting is a laptop. You likely do not want your laptop starting automatically and drawing down the battery when it’s in transport.

Set the computer to shutdown in the evening automatically

Starting the computer is one thing, but it doesn’t help if you also don’t shut it down when you are finished for the day.

Our second power saving tip is to set an automatic shutdown for 2 hours past your end of workday. See the next section for the reason for this. We recommend this because it gives the computer an opportunity to do housekeeping, updates, backups etc. before turning off for the day.

Conventional wisdom says to turn your computer off when you are leaving for the day. This setting ensures that your computer will shut down after it completes all the tasks it needs to do.

Set active hours to start at your automatic turn on time, and to end 2 hours before your automatic shutdown time

The active hours setting allows Windows to understand when it can do maintenance tasks, updates and other work without interrupting you. If you set your active hours to start at your PC startup time and end 2 hours before your automatic shutdown time, this forces Windows to do it’s maintenance work at night after you leave for the day. It also has the effect of ensuring your computer has a fresh start up each and every day.

Enable sleep to start with a reasonable 15 minute delay

SSD drives (SATA or M.2) are much more energy efficient than their mechanical counterparts. In addition they offer significant performance benefits, at the expense of storage capacity and write durability.

Sleep is a great feature for rapid resuming of work when you’ve stepped away from your computer for a period of time.

We don’t recommend sleep for computers during the evening because the amount of time that goes by during the evening can leave the computer in an inconstant state when it wakes up in the morning. In addition, turning the computer off is more energy efficient overall.

Set your inactive sleep time setting to a reasonable amount of time of inactivity. Sleep modes are not useful when the inactive time is set too long. In this situation the computer may never enter sleep. A good example is if you set your sleep timeout for one hour, and your lunch break is one hour. In this scenario, your computer will never enter sleep over the lunch hour.

Some suggestions for sleep timeout duration

  • Determine the amount of time you’ll normally take to read a screen of text, double it and set that as your sleep timeout
  • Set it 5 minutes longer than your average phone call
  • Configure it for half of a normal meeting time
  • Set it for 15 minutes
    • When in doubt, set it for 15 minutes. There are not too many reasons why you’d want a longer duration on a normal general purpose computer.
  • Adjust accordingly for Laptops, especially when they are on battery

Other Devices

Network Accessible Storage (NAS) devices

NAS Devices like this QNAP are affordable and great for backup storage.

These devices, when used for backup storage, do not need to be on during the day. These devices can be turned on manually by an IT administrator if files need to be restored (either wake-on-lan or by pushing the power button). An often overlooked advantage of powering down unneeded devices is that they cannot be compromised by a network affecting virus or malicious actor when they are off.

Managed Switches (esp. with POE)

Managed switches often have power saving features that turn off ports when they are not connected to devices. This can save a significant amount of power, especially on POE switches. Turning off inactive ports will save energy (in the switch this can be done intelligently by using Energy Efficient Ethernet EEE / Green Ethernet 802.3az).

Intelligent POE is a technology that detects when devices that do not require power are connected to POE ports and actively turns off power delivery on those ports.


Laser printers use a lot of power when they are printing, but they’ll also use a lot of power keeping “warm” waiting for the next job. Ensure that power management is turned on by configuring sleep, power off and power on settings. Using these can have substantial savings in energy.

Limit the number of individual printers in your office. Opt for larger group use printers because they are more efficient, faster, higher quality and have more options for power savings.

WiFi Access Points

Consider disabling WiFi Access Points during the evening to reduce power consumption and increase security. By powering down the Access Points, the wireless network will no longer be accessible to devices during off hours. This will save power and can reduce the risk of a security breach because it ensures that only certain times of the day the WiFi network is available for connections.

Impact of this change

Setting the computer to wake before arriving at work will help apply updates before you get to the office in the morning, thus saving you time and giving you a clean reboot each and every day. Setting sleep can reduce power consumption during the workday and setting automatic shutdown will give you a significant amount of energy savings over the night over sleep mode especially when you add up the savings over time.

A typical PC will use about 3 watts of power in sleep mode. If the computer is off between 8pm and 6am (10 hour duration), you’re saving 30 watt hours each day. Over the course of a month this can be up to 500 watt hours and if you extend this to all the computers in your office, this can be a significant amount of energy savings. Best of all these changes require a moment to set up and will pay benefits for the life of the computer.

Power saving on printers, NAS devices, switches and WiFi access points can have a big impact in reducing your power use.

With so much technology and all of it requiring power, it’s important to be as energy efficient as possible. This reduces our impact on the planet while saving some money and wear on our equipment.

Wrapping up

With these tips you should be able to minimize interruptions caused by updates, antivirus scans etc., ensure your computer is always operating each day from a fresh start up, and you can help go green by turning off your computer for a large portion of the day.

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