Using Fewer and Smaller Computers to Save Money and Energy at College and at Home

Computers, peripheral devices, and the energy to power them is a large cost for academic institutions. With greener and more energy efficient technologies coming out all the time, colleges and universities now have better options for fulfilling their technologies needs. One institution, Santa Ana College, has adopted a more energy-efficient and cost-effective IT strategy. The college purchased several nComputing thin clients, which are small, energy-saving computers that only use around 6 watts as opposed the usual 100 watts for a regular desktop computer. The college also expanded the availability of computers to more students without having to purchase more computers by using virtualization software hosted on single devices, so that as many as 25 students can use the same machine at the same time from different terminals. This also cuts down on the cost of hardware purchases and energy to power more machines. This new IT strategy has saved the college about 83 percent of the energy that would be required for the same amount of regular desktop computers. Another part of this new IT strategy involves the use of smart surge protectors that automatically turn off peripherals when the primary computer is off. They also use sensors to detect the computer labs are empty so that devices may automatically be turned off to conserve energy when the lab is not in use.

This solution works well for institutions that need to provide multiple computer terminals to users, but the principle still works for home users as well. With smart surge protectors and small, but still powerful computing devices, anyone can have a more energy efficient and cost-effective solution to their home computing needs. Even if you aren't in the market for these new devices, you can still conserve energy and save money by unplugging devices when they are not in use. If you do decide to replace your current system with newer equipment, make sure to recycle your old computer (after making sure to wipe the hard drive to protect your private data) or donate it to an organization like Free Geek.