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Green computing – green use

April 22, 2010

blue computer by Noerah AlviGreen computing is a term you may have heard being used lately. It refers to environmentally sustainable computing and takes into account the entire lifecycle of a computer from the initial design to ultimate disposal. The steps involved in the lifecycle of green computing are:

Green design – designing energy efficient and environmentally sound computer components.

Green manufacturing – manufacturing of computer components with minimal impact to the environment.

Green use – reducing the energy consumption by employing good user habits

Green disposal – refurbishing, reusing or properly recycling old computers.

While we as home users can certainly support green design and green manufacturing, we only can control our own green use and green disposal. Below are a few tips for green use or your home computer.

Your old computer

  • If your computer is older (say five years or so) switch it off when not in use and definitely overnight. The new computers are much more energy efficient and use very little energy while in sleep mode. According to Energy Star “If all computers sold in the United States meet the ENERGY STAR requirements, the savings in energy costs will grow to more than $2 billion each year and greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by the equivalent of greenhouse gas emissions from nearly 3 million vehicles.”
  • Get familiar with the power management features of your computer. Change the settings to turn off the hard drive after 15 minutes of inactivity and put the monitor in sleep mode after five minutes of inactivity.
  • Print only what you really need printed. Don’t print all pages if you only need one. Before printing check the Print Preview to see if any pages to be printed can be eliminated. Next time you buy a printer consider buying one that prints on both sides. If you receive an electronic document, such as a bank statement, don’t print it. Instead crete an electronic filing system of organized directories on your computer to file it away.
  • Refill ink-jet cartridges and laser toner. It is cheaper and prevents empty cartridges from ending up in landfills.
  • If you need a new internal drive, get one that consumes low energy and is Energy Star compliant.

Your new computer

  • If you need a new computer, consider buying a laptop instead of a desktop. They consume less power. It is better to buy a new or slightly used computer rather than an old computer, since the new processors consume less energy. Buy a computer according to your needs – don’t buy a computer with 8GB of RAM for example if all you are going to do is email, browse, word processing and spreadsheets; 4MB of RAM is plenty.
  • Check out Greenpeace’s electronics ranking for computers to see if the brand you are thinking of is making the right choices socially and environmentally.
  • While laser printers can use up to 100W as opposed to inkjet printers which use about 12W, it is important to remember that documents printed on inkjet printers can contaminate the paper recycling process. Choose a printer with this guideline in mind.

-by Noerah

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