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It’s Blog Action Day and today’s post is about the environment.

What’s a super-easy way to reduce energy consumption, lower your energy bill, and feel good all-over? Put your computer to sleep.

For some of you, its already second nature to tuck your computers in at night. The rest of us, however, are still seduced by screensavers like flying toasters, swimming fishes, and flurry lights. When we leave work, we turn off the lights and turn on the screensavers. It’s hard to resist, because they’re just so darn pretty. Also, screensavers do prevent “burn-in”, right?

Turns out, they don’t.

Here’s what my trusty Wikipedia friend says:

Modern CRTs are much less susceptible to burn-in than older models due to improvements in phosphor coatings, and because modern computer images are generally lower contrast than the stark green- or white-on-black text and graphics of earlier machines. LCD computer monitors, including the display panels used in laptop computers, are not susceptible to burn-in because the image is not directly produced by phosphors… Additionally, using a screensaver with a flat panel or LCD screen instead of powering down the screen can actually reduce the lifetime of the display.

Screensavers also waste energy, costing you more money when the utility bill comes:

Monitors running screensavers consume the same amount of power as when running normally, which can be anywhere from a few watts for small LCD monitors to several hundred for large plasma displays.

Basically, screensavers are nothing more than evil but deceptively pretty lights.

Need more convincing?

Apple Energy Usage Calculator

If you use a Mac, check out Apple’s little-known Energy Usage Calculator. It shows you how much money you’re saving each year with the default Energy Saver settings. For example, a Mac Pro running for two hours a day on weekdays with Energy Saver will save you 91% percent off the cost of running the computer each year.

All Macs come with Energy Saver’s automatic sleep settings already installed and enabled. To save even more energy, adjust your computer and display to go to sleep after a shorter period of inactivity than the default.

Windows XP and Vista also has sleep AKA “hibernation” settings. But can anyone ever get these to work properly?


  • Karen

    gravatarOct 15, 2007
    7:07 am

    Or you could always just turn your computer off at night, along with the monitor(s) and speakers! Not only saves power on the computer, but lowers cooling costs in the house, as the computer generates a bit of heat!

  • Patrick Algrim

    gravatarOct 15, 2007
    7:10 am

    Great Job! Thanks for participating in BAD, not many people seem to be posting yet today.

    We are offering some free surprise seeds! All we require is a pingback, check us out at hellyeahdude.com

  • Jacob Share

    gravatarOct 15, 2007
    7:30 am

    Good tip. Alot of people think that using Blackle on their LCDs is saving energy too, but it’s actually more wasteful than the plain Google style.

    Here’s my Blog Action Day 2007 missive:

    The Obnoxious Guide to Environmentally-Safe Job Hunting

    http://jobmob.co.il/blog/the-obnoxious-guide-to-environmentally-safe-j ob-hunting/

  • Jon

    gravatarOct 15, 2007
    8:58 am

    Ah, the not-so-subtle PC bashing. I think all the people who hate PC’s haven’t used one in like 10 years. Press the hibernate button, it sleeps. Press it again, in a few seconds, you’re back. And who still uses screen savers? Most computers default to having the screen shut off after 5-15 minutes.

  • shoobe01

    gravatarOct 15, 2007
    9:06 am

    CRTs indeed use less power when displaying dark images (or nothing). So, screensavers (originally before you could power down the monitor remotely, then just to keep it warmed up for instant use) were a good choice for these systems. Since it makes some sort of innate sense, I feel a lot of folks still think its true that dark is off, so subtle screensavers are only a bit above full off.

    PC bashing? Just if its not true, and its true here. I know about zero PC users who sleep their computer. The power management software is so unreliable that most everyone I know turns their laptop OFF for a 5 minute move between conference rooms instead of even trying to sleep it. Note that this is indeed windows, not the h/w; switch to any well-compiled unix/linux variant and the same machine works fine.

  • Dancil’ Fool

    gravatarOct 15, 2007
    9:58 am

    Hello! Great post and Happy Blog Action Day to you.

    I have the blissful joy of being brought up a worrier therefore have to turn all electrical appliances off when not likely to be in use in the imminent future for fear of house fire!

  • Diesel

    gravatarOct 15, 2007
    1:35 pm

    I usually just push the button that turns off my monitor right before heading to bed. I realize I can probably save lots of electricty by just spending an extra few seconds to turn the whole desktop off.


  • Kristina Richardson

    gravatarOct 15, 2007
    1:50 pm

    Everyone can make a difference! If you are passionate about stopping global warming and the environment you should check out this website http://www.nvisioncfl.com . Changing to CFLs is a great way for individual people to really make a difference! You should also check out this site http://www.youtube.com/user/helpourworld for more ideas on how to help our world!

  • Chris

    gravatarOct 16, 2007
    6:29 pm

    It really is all the little things that you do daily that add up. In the past I have always used energy settings on all of my computers but recently I have been slack about it. Now it is time to get back into the routine of energy saving.

  • Karen

    gravatarOct 16, 2007
    9:00 pm

    What’s the use of having a computer swithched on at night. You don’t need it at all and it’s better to get accostumed to turning it off. It saves not only energy but the computer’s life as well.

  • Alexa

    gravatarOct 19, 2007
    12:47 pm

    Hey, watch the Windows-bashing… Hibernate is a great option that I really wish my Mac had.

    When my Mac is “sleeping,” sometimes the battery will drain to zero and lose everything… not to mention all the other sleep issues (computer not waking up when you open it, computer restarting itself, computer waking up while in my backpack and almost catching me on fire, etc.). And then there’s the obnoxious “snoring” LED that illuminates my room all night).

    When PCs hibernate, they are using ZERO energy… they’re turned off completely. Plus you have both Standby (sleep) AND Hibernate as options. Windows may not have figured all things out, but they know how to sleep.

  • Chris

    gravatarOct 19, 2007
    12:52 pm


    I like to refer to what your describing with a mac “computer not waking up when you open it” as Coma Mode. Sometime my Mac goes to sleep and just never wakes up, so I have to completely kill it and turn it back on.