Top 10 Computer Power Management Myths...and Realities

  • Myth #1: You save more money if you simply require people to turn off their computers each night.
    Learn the reality.

    • Reality: You only save a watt or two by turning off a computer vs. placing it in sleep mode. Forgetting to shut down your computer just a handful of times will negate an entire year's worth of incremental energy savings. Surveys and interviews with IT managers consistently conclude that policies "requiring" users to turn off their PCs at night result in only about 70–90% compliance.

  • Myth #2: Sleep features can wear out hardware by forcing the computer to turn on and off several times a day.
    Learn the reality.

    • Reality: Modern computers are designed to handle 40,000 on-off cycles before failure, and you're unlikely to approach that number, even if you keep your computer 5–7 years. Some studies indicate it would require on-off cycling every five minutes to harm a hard drive.

  • Myth #3: Computer power management saves an insignificant amount of energy on notebook computers.
    Learn the reality.

    • Reality: While they use less energy than desktops, notebook computers still burn about 20-30 watts of power. System standby and hibernate features reduce notebook power draw to 1–2 watts.

      TIP: Be certain to activate system standby and hibernate features in the AC power profile — not just the DC power profile

  • Myth #4: Computers and monitors use more energy with power management settings activated, due to power surges when cycling on and off.
    Learn the reality.

    • Reality: The small surge of power created when PCs are turned on is far smaller than the energy used by running the device when it is not needed.

  • Myth #5: System standby and hibernate features can render a computer unstable, causing system crashes and/or preventing it from waking.
    Learn the reality.

    • Reality: These features work almost flawlessly in all Windows operating systems since XP.

  • Myth #6: Computer users will complain about having to wait for their machines to "wake" from system standby or hibernate.
    Learn the reality.

    • Reality: Employees typically embrace power management when they understand that they are saving money and preventing pollution. Plus "waking" computers takes less time than booting.

      TIP: Inform employees about power management settings prior to activating them, and share information on the economic and environmental benefits.

  • Myth #7: Employees who access their desktop computers remotely (e.g., through VPN) must have their machines powered 24/7 and should not use computer power management features.
    Learn the reality.

    • Reality: Technologies that allow users to "wake" sleeping or off computers from outside of the network are still fairly new. At a minimum, you can apply monitor sleep settings to these computers!

  • Myth #8: Sleeping computers will not receive important software updates such as new antivirus definitions and Windows security patches.
    Learn the reality.

    • Reality: Partially true! This can be an initial barrier but there are numerous ways to ensure that software updates are applied, including waking up computers through the network prior to distributing updates. ENERGY STAR can help identify the best solution for your IT environment.

  • Myth #9: Because Microsoft ships Windows software with computer power management settings enabled, there is no need to worry about sleep settings on Windows machines.
    Learn the reality.

    • Reality: While Microsoft does ship Windows with sleep settings enabled, operating systems are usually installed by PC makers, enterprise IT departments, computer resellers, or 3rd party service providers. Windows default power management settings are not typically retained by these parties.

  • Myth #10: My network administrator says our PCs are "enabled for hibernate," so we must already be taking advantage of computer power management features.
    Learn the reality.

    • Reality: For the hibernate feature to be available, it is sometimes necessary to enable it in Windows. This does not mean that PCs are configured to automatically enter hibernate after 30 to 60 minutes of inactivity.

      TIP: To avoid potential confusion, ask if PCs are "configured to automatically enter system standby or hibernate after 30 to 60 minutes of inactivity."