Green Computing Tips

Bowdoin College recognizes the need for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Energy consumption and electrical usage all contribute to these harmful emissions.

You can help reduce greenhouse emissions by following a few simple steps in enabling power management features on your computer.

Power Management allows monitors and computers to reduce power usage during periods of idleness. As a result, the monitor screen turns black, the CPU reduces power, and the hard disk slows down its spinning. This is called "sleep" or "idle" mode. Enabling power management settings decreases the amount of wasted energy we spend.

Power management for Windows

Standby or Hibernate? If you don't want to completely turn off your computer, you can set it on "standby" or "hibernate" mode.

Standby Mode: In standby mode, your computer reduces the amount of power it uses, conserving energy. Standby still keeps opened files and applications, making it easy to return to your computer. This is best when you plan to leave your computer on for short periods of time.

Hibernate Mode: In hibernate mode, your computer saves an image of your desktop, including all open windows and files. Then it powers down your computer just as if you had turned it off. When you turn your computer on again, your windows and files are open just as you left them. This is best used when you plan to leave your computer on for a period of days or hours.

sleeping polar bear
Polar bears do not hibernate in the true sense of the word (Polar Bear FAQ), but your computer can - and that can be good for you and good for Bowdoin

Changing the default power settings on your computer.

You can adjust the default power management settings by going to your computer's Control Panel or System Preferences. There you can set and view the power schemes, hibernation, power meter and alarms to work for you automatically.

Windows 7
1. Click on the Start button.
2. Click on Control Panel. (If you are in Theme View double click on "Performance and Maintenance. If you are in Classic View scroll down to "Power Options.)
2. Select "Power Options."
3. Select a pre-configured plan, customize one of the pre-configured plans, or create a new plan.
4. Select change plan settings.The screen for editing a plan allows you to change the monitor and sleep timeout settings.
5. To change more settings click on "Change advanced power settings". You will be able to enable or choose a variety of Power Management options.

Change the power button setting in Windows 7 to hibernate or standby
1. Click the Start button.
2. Click on Control Panel.
3. Click on Hardware and Sound.
4. Choose what the power buttons do.
5. Change When I press the power button: to Hibernate for both On battery and Plugged in.
6. Change When I close the lid: to Hibernate for both On battery and Plugged in.
7. Click Save changes.

Windows XP
1. Click on the "Start menu."
2. Click on "Control Panel."
3. Click on "Performance and Maintenance."
4. Click on "Power Options."

Macintosh OS X (10.5 or newer)
1. Go to the "Apple Menu." 
2. Click on "System Preferences."
3. Click "Show All."
4. Select "Energy Saver." 
5. Click on "Power Adapter."
6. Select "Power Adapter"
7. Set the slider to the number of minutes you want to put the computer and display asleep.
(For additional power savings choose "put the hard disk to sleep when possible")

Computer Myths and Facts

Myth #1

Turning off my computer is bad for my computer

Fact: The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory states that modern hard disks are not affected by frequent shut-downs and that equipment may actually last longer because mechanical wear and heat stress are reduced.

Action: Turn off your computer at night

Security Benefit: When you turn your computer off you decrease the risk of someone accessing your files or e-mail.

Myth #2

Computers don't really need a lot of power if they are on but not used

Fact: During heavy usage (e.g. when you open a new application) your computer draws only slightly more power. The average computer uses about 120 Watts (75 Watts for the screen and 45 Watts for the CPU) whether you're using it or not.

Action: Turn off your computer if you are not using it for several hours

And: One computer left on 24 hours a day will cost you $115 in electricity bills a year and dumps 1,500 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere. Plus, a tree absorbs between 3-15 lbs of CO2 each year. That means that 100-500 trees would be needed to offset the yearly emissions of one computer left on all the time.

Myth #3

Screen savers save

Fact: Despite the name, screen savers don't save anything, especially not power

Action: Turn off your monitor if you are not using your computer for more than 15 minutes

Security Benefit: When you turn your computer off you decrease the risk of someone accessing your files or e-mail.