All-Nighter PCs Cost U.S. Businesses $1.7 Billion

Closeup of hard drive circuit

Photo credit: Gary Forsdick

Forcing your PC to pull another pointless all-nighter isn't just polluting, it's also a waste of money. Make that a lot of money. Nearly half of all corporate computers in the United States don't get turned off at night, costing U.S. businesses $1.72 billion in annual energy costs and spewing 14.4 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere per year, according to a new report.

Let's give those numbers some context: A midsize company with around 10,000 PCs wastes more than $165,000 per year in electricity costs for computers left on overnight, while contributing 1,381 tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Giving those same computers a breather every night would have roughly the same effect as taking 2.58 million cars off the road, which is more than the number of autos zipping around the entire state of Maryland."Few problems match an impact so large with a solution so simple," says Sumir Karayi, chief executive officer 1E, a provider of power management software that, along with the Alliance to Save Energy, commissioned the study. "A computer uses energy even when it appears to be idle. Reducing that waste can help US businesses reduce costs and prevent tons of damaging greenhouse gases from being emitted into our atmosphere.

Part of the problem: worker apathy and insufficient business systems. "Ideally, everyone would shut down their PCs at the end of the working day, but the research released shows that this just doesn't happen," Karayi says.

According to the report, some employees assume—usually erroneously—that their PCs need to be left on overnight so that their IT departments can deploy security patches and software updates. Others hold the misconception that their PCs will automatically go to sleep. (Unless you tweak your energy-savings profile to do so, it's not going to happen.)

Worse, an alarming number of respondents admitted that they just didn't care. :: LOHAS

See also: :: If You Don't Turn Your Computer Off, Who Will?, :: Green Machine Guide, and :: Disposing of Your Computer for Joy and Profit