One of the biggest problems with computer power use is that every component of a computer requires a different amount of power. So every computer has to have a 'power supply' that takes the power from the wall and slices it up for all the different pieces of your computer. The problem is that, in the slicing, energy is lost. In fact, for the first couple decades of computing, a LOT of energy was lost. Inefficient power supplies have just been a fact of life.
But in the last few years, and especially since the 80 Plus standards started getting some traction among consumers, power supply efficiencies have been jumping. 80 Plus power supplies have been tested and are at least 80% efficient whether the computer is idling, or running a HalfLife2 multiplayer death match. Antec has already created several high-quality, high-efficiency power supplies, but now they're one-upping themselves.The Earthwatts series from Antec is not only specifically marketed at the energy conscious, it's inexpensive and very high quality. The added efficiency also keeps the device cooler, so the fan is much more quiet. The end result is a high-quality piece of equipment that will only cost you $50 and will probably pay for itself in the course of a year. Now we just have to hope that the trend catches on with major manufacturers.