Will a Mac Mini Pay for Itself in Power Savings?

mac mini photo
Photo: Apple Inc.
This Guy Says Yes, But It's More Complicated Than That...
ShareA blogger recently claimed that his new Mac Mini would be paying for itself within two years because his power bill had been slashed by half (see the screen grab below). His headline ("Free Apple Mac Mini. No Strings Attached!") was of course sensationalistic, but there is an important truth behind it: People too often forget to look at the total cost of ownership (TCO) when they're buying computers and other electronics, and making them more aware of it is a good opportunity to encourage good green practices.mac mini power energy bill image
Image: CJ's Blog

Above is a screen grab of CJ's recent energy bills. He switched from a HP Pavilion (a6567) to a Mac Mini because he lives "in a 575 sq feet apartment and wanted to save some space", and was pleasantly surprised to see his power bill cut in half.

That's a saving of around $20/month and up to $240 a year.

A penny saved is a penny earned. So the savings on your PG&E; bills will pay for your Mini in just a few years.

I want to clarify that I do not have an AC unit in my apartment as weather is generally pleasant throughout the year. The only electronic device that I changed is my computer.

The Bottom Line
The Mac Mini is just an example. The point is that by moving from an energy-guzzling desktop computer to a more energy efficient desktop or laptop (the Mac Mini is more or less laptop hardware re-packaged into a small desktop) you could be saving energy and money in the long run (with a new computer as a bonus!).

There are a few caveats, though: Your savings will be heavily dependent on how many hours per day your computer is on, and your local electricity rates. You'll save more with a 24/7 file-server in California than with a 1-hour a day computer in Quebec, for example.

I also wouldn't recommend changing computers just for the potential energy savings. E-waste is a big problem, and making new computers is not very green. The right way to do this would be to look for the most energy-efficient computer that meets your needs when you would be upgrading anyway. Just make sure to dispose of your old computer properly (Google "take back" programs from the company that made your computer), or donate it to someone who could use it (especially if it's turned on only a few times a week to check email or facebook, which is probably what most people who still don't have a PC would do -- not very energy-intensive).

Via CJ's Blog
See also: Why the "Most Efficient" Part of the New Mac Mini Doesn't Mean Squat
More Energy Efficiency
Obama's Big Smart Grid Stimulus: $3.4 Billion Going to 100 Projects
"Tres Amigas" Superstation Could Connect the 3 US Electrical Grids
From Smart Grid to Big Brother?

Tags: Energy | Energy Efficiency


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