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Green IT: Computers & Peripherals

Computers & Peripherals: Smart Use for Green Effects

Computers and their peripherals allow for amazing jumps in productivity and enable workflows that have never been possible before. However, they are also among the largest consumers of power in the nation. Think about this. The power a computer and its peripherals use idling over a weekend could power a compact fluorescent light bulb for 20 days straight. A computer and its peripherals left on for a month would consume the electricity generated by 178 pounds of coal.

Turn off your computer and peripherals regularly

  • Shut down peripherals even if your computer stays on. If your computer needs to be running after hours (check with your LSP), turning off your monitor and peripherals can still result in big power savings. Just shutting your monitor off at night instead of allowing it to “suspend” can save 50% of your monitor’s electricity costs!
  • Consider investing in a Smart Strip for power management help.
  • Give your electronics a much-needed rest. All of this powering off, particularly for monitors and computers, can actually increase the life-span of your devices. There is an old myth that turning off computers wears them out. It is just not true!
  • Use a hibernation setting, if slow boot up time is your main reason for keeping your computer on all the time. It saves a snapshot of your current desktop in memory before going into a deep sleep and when it wakes up it will more quickly return to state it was in than waiting for a full reboot. However, while hibernating the energy draw is very small.

Recycle e-waste, because proper disposal is important

Computing equipment “e-waste” contains lots of heavy metals and toxic materials that can seep into the water supply or poison the ground. All of these materials can be contained, and most can be reused, if they are properly disposed of.

  • Work with your LSP to make sure all data is securely wiped from your hard drive, before sending computers to be donated or recycled. More information about secure delete strategies is available on Penn's Information Security web site.
  • Choose a reputable e-waste recycler, like Elemental, who will make sure the devices are disposed of properly. Penn's Office of Environmental Health and Radiation Safety (EHRS) has researched Elemental's recycling practices thoroughly. All e-scrap is disassembled at their facility. They do not send any material abroad for disposal. Elemental is one of the few facilities that offers this level of certification and protection.
  • Donate old equipment to give your computer a second life. Donations may be arranged through Communitech, a Penn student organization which supplies surrounding neighborhoods with computer and technology information. Outdated equipment that cannot be donated must be recycled.
  • Use vendor recycling programs. Programs are available through DellApple, and HP.
  • Participate in City of Philadelphia hazardous waste collection days so that your computer and other electronics will be disposed of properly and will not end up in general landfills.

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