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7 Tips to Green Computing

By Guest Blogger Matt Powell

Computing and technology is now responsible for 2% of the global carbon footprint, a significant amount for just one sector of industry. It’s therefore important that end users do whatever we can to reduce our impact on the environment. The following tips are simple things you can do to contribute that will help the whole planet as well as save you some money.

1) Power down when not in use

Seems obvious but many of us leave computers powered up for long periods when not in use. Computer displays in particular use a large amount of energy so if you’re not using the computer for a while press the power button to shut it off until required, you can do this even if the computer is working on something. Remember that a screensaver doesn’t save power. Same goes for your computer itself, you don’t have to shut it down completely if you don’t want to reboot, just use sleep or hibernation mode. That will save energy but restore the system to its current state when you need it again.

2) Make use of power saving features

All computers include power saving options. Using these features you can command your computer to perform various energy-saving tasks automatically, including shutting off unused hard disks, powering off a monitor after a certain time or even placing the computer into sleep mode after a set period inactivity. These are especially useful on laptops to help retain battery life.

3) Buy energy efficient hardware

If you don’t need super-fast computing power then look out for energy efficient components when buying a new computer, such as green hard drives and low-energy processors. While performance is slower they can use significantly less power. In particular buying an energy efficient power supply unit for a desktop PC can help the environment and save money, they’re often quieter too.

4) Use a laptop

Laptops are far better for the environment than desktop computers as they have components which require less power. If you don’t need a desktop computer consider buying a laptop instead, or if you have both use the laptop whenever possible.

5) Recycle responsibly

Computer hardware is packed with all kinds of material which can be hazardous to the environment so make sure you dispose of old components properly. Don’t just throw broken technology in the bin, take the time to track down local recycling schemes. There may be companies which can extract the valuable rare metals, or charities which may repair or restore items. You may even be able to sell some things yourself on eBay to make a little extra cash. If nothing else you should check with your local authorities to find out what facilities they offer for safely disposing of old computing equipment.

6) Go digital

Advances in technology mean our reliance on physical items has been greatly reduced. You don’t need to buy a CD when music can be legally purchased from Amazon, iTunes or many other sources. And rather than printing documents and photos make use of email and instant messaging to send documents, or gadgets such as digital photo frames to display pictures without paper.

7) Don’t buy new, upgrade and maintain

Computer running a little slow? It happens after a while, like people they get a bit sluggish in old age. However that doesn’t mean you have to buy a whole new system, simple upgrades such as extra RAM, a new hard drive or a new processor can have a major impact and give your system a new lease of life. Most laptops can be upgraded as well, not just desktop systems. It may not even need new parts, clearing out old files are reinstalling the operating system can improve performance without costing any money.

About the Author

Matt Powell writes on behalf of Broadband Genie, where if you’re a broadband user with an eco-conscience, you can find broadband packages offered by Green ISP.

About Kevin

Kevin is both an environmentalist and a tech guy and has been writing, editing and publishing this blog since 2007. He answers questions related to how you can use tech to go greener.

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