The power of on

Turning your PC off uses more energy than leaving it on: Regardless of the slight power surge that comes when turning the PC back on, it's still uses less energy than leaving it on all the time.

Turning your PC on and off wears it out: That was the case at one time but not anymore because today's computers are built to handle being turned on and off for 40,000 on/off cycles before wearing out.

Screen savers save energy: They use 42 watts minimum, but those with detailed graphics can use up to 114.5 watts.

Your computer doesn't use any energy when off: That's only true if the machine is unplugged. Otherwise it uses "flea power" of 2.3 watts just because it's plugged into the wall.

Laura Hobbs

Chief Reporter

With the issue of energy conservation comes the question of whether to turn off an unused computer or leave it on.

David Powell, network analyst for University Computer Services, said the matter is mostly based on personal preference. He recommended turning off the computer when people are going on vacations or leaving for extended periods of time.

"I've never been for turning it off," said senior Jeff Ober, who is a part-time technician for University Computer Labs. "But turning it off saves power."

Energy Star, a part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said turning the computer off at night saves almost as much energy as keeping it unplugged from the wall.

Both options have advantages and disadvantages, however.

Ober said leaving the computer on keeps a power surge running through it, which keeps dust from getting inside the computer.

"Dust in your computer is never a good thing," he said. "Turing it off leaves a static charge, and dust can get in there."

The disadvantage comes with the use of more energy, he said.

Ober also said though turning the computer off can save energy, it can also wear out the hard drive and software.

There is an alternative that is a combination of both.

Having your computer on "sleep" or "standby" is a way to save energy but still have power going to keep dust out, he said.

Most new computers come with these features built into them.

"You'd be hard pressed to find a computer that didn't have those options," Ober said.

Energy Star also said keeping computers in a "hibernate" or "sleep" mode is a useful way to save energy if people want to leave the computer on at night.

Putting the computer in "sleep" mode can be done by going to the control panel and selecting "power options." People can then set for the computer to go in "sleep" after certain periods of time the computer is idle.

One of the common myths circulating with saving energy comes from the idea of screen savers.

"Screen savers are not for saving energy," Ober said. "They're for saving pixels and keep a certain image from getting burned into the screen."

He said some of the older computers on campus have images burned into their screens because they didn't have screen savers, so people can see logos or other images even when the computer isn't running.

Ober said the best type of screen savers are ones with the least amount of graphics or a completely blank screen.

Most Windows programs have the option of a blank screen saver.

However, with turning off the computer at night, sometimes people will leave other equipment on such as speakers or other electronic equipment attached to the machine, Ober said.


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