How Power Management Software Can Help You to Save Energy

This article explains best practices of PC power management, helps to estimate your savings with better power management and helps you to select a right tool for this.

Many companies and organizations are looking for ways to go green in order to help environment and cut energy costs. Desktop PCs and monitors are one of main power consumers in modern office, so effective PC power management can help to significantly reduce power consumption without a capital expenditure. If you are looking for cost-saving tactics with a low or even zero investment, get familiar with PC power management.

There are a big variety of power management software to assist you in implementing your plan in scope of entire organization. Your PC power management solution can be self-made, based on a standard Windows or free external utilities. Or you can chose one of commercial solutions that have extended set of power management features.

Best Practices of PC Power Management

While hardware vendors work on reducing power consumption for computers, desktops and monitors still need a lot of energy to work. Typical office PC with monitor uses 100 watts in active mode. So the best thing you can do to organize effective power management, is to turn PCs off when they aren't in use. In general, there are two approaches, described below, how you can reduce energy wasting in your office.

Let Your PCs to Sleep

Modern hardware and operation systems has special power management features that allow to put monitors and computers into a low-power sleeping mode after some period of inactivity. In this mode typical PC with monitor uses only few watts of power, but can be waked up in seconds by user or by network command. Applying a balanced power management plan in Windows should be one of your first steps to reduce power consumption in your organization.

Turn PCs Off at Night

Another way of reducing power consumption is that simple - just turn off office PCs at night. It seems to be obvious, but according to recent power management surveys almost 40% of office PCs stay turned on at night. Users often just forget to turn off PC. In other cases administrators keep PCs powered on to apply latest security patches or application updates. In fact, it's extremely ineffective even if Windows power management plan is used. There are many situations, especially in a network environment, when processes running on the computer will prevent it to go to sleep. On average it happens in 45% of cases.

Using network shutdown tools you can control PCs from the central location according with your needs and PC power management plan. Thus, you can turn off PCs if someone forget to do it. Also using feature-rich (mainly commercial) network shutdown software you can not only turn PCs off, but also wake them up when required. It allows you to keep PCs running only when OS, security or application patches should be applied, not during all the time at night.

Estimate Your Savings When Using Better Power Management

You will really feel the difference from the day one when you improve PC power management across organization. Energy Star estimates that companies and organizations can save from $25 to $75 per PC per year by powering down PCs during non-working hours. In particular, AT&T according to latest reports saves around $12 millions by applying power management best practices to control 300,000 PCs. In addition to financial savings, company also demonstrates commitment to green business practices, because reducing energy wasting allows also to reduce CO2 emissions by around half of ton per PC per year.

Make a First Step and Define Your Approach to PC Power Management

At the first step you should define your goals for PC power management. Do you need just to turn off PCs at nights and on weekends and let users turn them on manually? Or maybe you need a solution that turns PCs off and on to automate patches installation at night. Do you need to turn PCs off unconditionally or let users to interrupt shutdown if they use a desktop. All these questions let you to define a scope of your power management project and create or select a solution that suites your needs.

There are only a few ways to turn off PCs remotely, described in the article How to Remotely Shutdown Computers on Network. You need to understand how they work in order to make a right choice regarding a tool/technology that will be a basis for your power management solution. A simple solution, that can be quickly implemented by network administrator, can be based on free Shutdown or PsShutdown utilities. You can learn more about them in the article Using PsShutdown and Shutdown Commands in Corporate Networks.

Freeware Shutdown Utility

PsShutdown is a command-line utility similar to the Windows shutdown utility, but with the ability to do much more.

Useful Resources
  • Energy Star is a government-backed program helping businesses and individuals protect the environment through superior energy efficiency.
  • Climate Savers Computing brings together industry, consumers and conservation organizations to significantly increase the energy efficiency of computers and servers.