How to Optimize Power Management Settings for Savings

Power management in a computer and/or monitor allows the product to enter low power modes when not in use, saving significant energy and drastically increasing battery life in portable devices. It is an important energy-saving feature that is required to be enabled as-shipped in all ENERGY STAR certified notebook and desktop computers as well as computer monitors.  

Unfortunately, there are misconceptions that lead some IT managers to turn off these power management features, resulting in lots of wasted electricity. For example, if you manage an office with 400 employees using a mix of desktop and notebook computers, each with an additional supporting monitor, turning off power management on all these products could increase annual electricity costs by over $9,400 (over 76,000 kWh of extra usage per year) with no added value. The ENERGY STAR Computer Power Management Savings Calculator (Excel, 63 KB) can help determine how much energy your organization may be wasting by disabling power management.  

Why Do Some IT Managers Disable Power Management?  

Several myths persist regarding power management in computers and displays dating back to when computers needed to remain on (typically overnight) to receive security and firmware updates. Modern operating systems have built-in features including wake on LAN (WoL), magic packets, and remote access with sleep capability available to allow network administrators to wake systems from sleep to receive updates or allow users to access their systems remotely and then allow the product to go back to sleep afterward. There simply no longer is a technical reason for disabling power management on products with modern operating systems, as there is no negative impact on performance or user experience associated with it.  

What Can I Do? 

Start by checking your computer’s power management settings. If you notice that your computer is not going to sleep, you can change the power settings and enable low power modes for your computer and monitor. ENERGY STAR offers information on how to change the power settings for a variety of operating systems. Some organizations do not allow you to change the settings yourself, and you would need assistance from an administrator. If that is the case, contact your IT administrator and ask them about your organization’s power management policy. You can use the ENERGY STAR calculator (Excel, 63 KB) to show the savings your organization is missing out on!

Author: Ryan Fogle