Be a hero -- save power

Think green! Check out these setting in Windows for turning off monitors.

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In these days of tightening budgets, anything you can do to save some money will get you noticed. And electrical power can be a major cost item for IT. Think about a monitor that, when active, consumes about 70 W. Run that monitor for 10 hours, and you're talking 0.700 kWh. Now if power costs $.10/kWh, then over the course of one day, that monitor cost you $.07. Doesn't sound like much yet, but consider running that monitor for 10-hour...

days for a month of 20 workdays. Your cost is $1.40. Consider that you have 200 such monitors at your location, and your cost becomes $280. Now figure that you're working a 12-month year, and you come up with $3,360 annual cost for monitors only, not to mention the cost of running servers and desktop machines. And every monitor you add kicks the total up. Simple arithmetic will give you the numbers.

You can help yourself here. Almost all PCs and monitors today support a low power consumption mode that kicks in when the PC hasn't been used for more than a few minutes. Since monitors -- especially CRTs -- gobble the most power aside from the CPU itself, every bit you can cut that back means savings further down the line, and often IT pros get so tied up with every other setting they forget this one.

To set the display's power options, first make sure Windows 2000 has the correct monitor identified. You can do this by right-clicking on the desktop and selecting Properties | Settings and looking at the "Display:" string. If the string lists the wrong monitor, you can change it by clicking Advanced | Monitor | Properties | Driver | Update Driver. Most monitor manufacturers either have their monitor's driver (which contains the details for how it gets set into standby mode) on the Windows 2000 CD-ROM, or as a download from their site.

Since each monitor is different, not having the right monitor driver means the system may not set standby mode for that display correctly. Having the right driver also lets you correctly select which display modes are compatible with what refresh frequencies. Note also that if the monitor and the video card are both Plug and Play compatible, the system will make an attempt to detect what display you're using -- but if it's a more recent display with no driver included for it on the Win2K CD-ROM, the default monitor driver will be loaded and you may not get all the power-saving features you want.

In the Power Options icon in Control Panel, you can set the behavior for how the monitor sleeps. Set "Turn off monitor" to select how long the computer waits with no user activity before shutting off the display. Usually this is set to 10 minutes. You can set it to less or more than that depending on your own work habits.


Serdar Yegulalp is the editor of the Windows 2000 Power Users Newsletter.


This was first published in June 2002

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