Happy Earth Day!
Here’s an article for all of you green thumbs on home row. I’ve compiled a lot of the articles previously features here at 404 Tech Support that are related to environmentally-conscious behavior and we’ll revisit them to see how we can reduce our effects on the environment. Also, at the end of the article, I’ll dig into some exciting alternative means to reducing our electricity demands that I’ve been looking into.
It seems there is a trend, that I can’t quite figure out, between IT Professionals being generally interested in alternative energy more so than other occupations; perhaps this is just a biased view since this is my industry. It might also be a generation thing; I did grow up in the age of Captain Planet. I’m no Al Gore or tree hugging hippie (not that I’m saying there’s anything wrong with that, well maybe Al Gore, but I digress…), but here are some low-hanging fruits that we can reach as ordinary folks in our day-to-day lives.
We’ll start off with a number crunching post. With IT Goes Green, by the numbers, I used a Kill a Watt to measure power consumption for various computer related devices. This let us see and compare how much energy one model computer uses versus another, how much energy flat panels use versus CRTs, and more. Without these numbers or a way to measure, we won’t be able to tell in the future if we’ve made good decisions or created policies that actually reduced our energy usage.
This also creates a grounded perspective. While it is true that a flat panel monitor uses less power than a CRT monitor, if you’re replacing your CRT only for the sake of saving money, you’ll find the ROI (return on investment) will take quite some time to pay for itself.
There are a lot of things that stand in the way of reducing power consumption. One of those hurdles is access. If it comes to shutting down your computer every night when you leave the office, but there’s a small possibility that you might need something from that computer most people will not turn off their computer. In order to be able to turn off your machine but still boot it up remotely so you can access it across the network or Internet, I covered means of achieving this with Wake-on-LAN @ Home. This will allow you to use the WoL features of your computer or router and power on a computer back at the office or at home, even if it’s been shut down.
Shutting down a computer is the best way to cut costs, but even applying some simple power management can reduce your electricity demands. Powering off the monitor after being idle or spinning down the hard drive when not in use can save money. You can do this easily with some power management schemes. Learn about this and other utilities to make it more versatile with the article Power Manage PC Power Management. If you’re the forgetful type, you might want to use something like Marxio Timer to shut down your computer at a specific time or after so much time being idle.
Servers need to be on all the time so they can… serve. But if you have 3 servers running at only 30% capacity, you might be able to consolidate all of those functions into one server or convert them to virtual all on one box. Read the basics of this with my article on VMWare Server or Microsoft’s Hyper-V.
Recycle Old Computers
Nobody wants to put hazardous chemicals and heavy metals in a nearby landfill or water supply, but education about recycling computer locations can be sparse. You also want to be careful about any data that might be on the old hard drive before you give it away for re-use. Both of these topics are covered in the article, Before You Recycle/Garbage That Old Computer.
Reduce paper waste
I have a general curiosity about alternative energies and hope to someday have something in place when I own a house and land.
Solar Power Easily
Veranda Solar is actually making solar power more accessible. Even if you don’t have a house where you can permanently mount a solar panel, you would be able to hang a Veranda Solar panel (that does not look like a tacky addition) out your window and start generating electricity while the sun is shining. It’s still in prototype mode, but it should be interesting if solar power can be a household item.
Wind Power Easily
Wind power is definitely taking off and becoming more than just a bunch of hot air. There are various “small wind generators” available and a great way for households to supplement the grid without being a full-out wind farm.
- Swift Wind Turbine
Human Power Easily
Solar and wind power are great sources of renewable energy but they depend on environmental factors. What about human power? If you ride an exercise bike or running on a treadmill, why can’t that energy be turned into electricity? Well, it can. Most of these are not grid-connected, but you can plug in a device, like a TV or a laptop to power it while you’re burning some calories.
Afford Power Easily
Of course, a big hurdle to getting alternative energy into the main stream is the up-front cost. Wind turbines and photovoltaic panels can cost a lot up front. One thing to look into is rebates and tax credits. The government will currently provide a 30% tax credit for an alternative energy project. This will help encourage individuals to seriously consider investing in these means of going green.
Check out the Energy Star and EPA websites for more information.
This site provides an easy search function for finding rebates and other related information based on your geographic region: Skystream Energy.