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Green IT: Configuring Power Settings in Windows

Follow the instructions below to configure power settings in Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8.

Locating Power Management Settings

  1. To configure Power Management, click on Start, click Control Panel, and then click Hardware & Sound.
  2. Select "Power Options."

Customizing Your Settings

  • Once you are in Power Options you can choose a pre-configured plan, customize one of the pre-configured plans, or create a new plan.
  • Select change plan settings.
  • The initial screen for editing a plan allows you to change the monitor and sleep timeout settings.
  • To change more settings click on "Change advanced power settings". Here you will be able to enable or set values for a variety of Power Management options.

EPA Recommendations

The EPA recommends setting computers to enter system standby or hibernate after 15 to 60 minutes of inactivity. To save even more, set monitors to enter sleep mode after 5 to 20 minutes of inactivity. The lower the setting, the more energy you save. The "Turn off hard disks" setting does not save much power, and can be ignored.

If you are not able to select a hibernate timeout, you may need to enable the hibernate feature. To do so, select the Hibernate tab in Power Options Properties, check "Enable hibernation," and click "Apply" or "OK".

Penn Recommendations

End users should always consult with their Local Support Provider or ITA before adjusting the power settings on their computer. Some of the more energy efficient options (i.e., Hibernate or System Standby) may impede management tasks (such as patches or system updates) or can adversely affect system integrity when run with essential software (ISC has documented issues with certain sleep settings and PGP Whole Disk Encryption).

Monitor time out should be enabled with a relatively short interval (5-10 minutes) in lieu of utilizing a screen saver. Not only will this setting drastically reduce energy usage (as much as 78 watts can be saved), but it will significantly prolong the life of many monitors by reducing the amount of time the backlight is lit.

Special information for Remote Desktop Users

Computer users requiring off-hours remote access to their desktops (via Remote Desktop, for instance) should utilize monitor power management features only. Remote access technologies may not be able to remotely "wake" computers from system standby or hibernate mode.

Troubleshooting Sleep Issues

If you find that your PC doesn't go to sleep after the allotted time here are some key items to check:

  1.     Your computer may not enter sleep mode if you have a file open over the network.
  2.     Screen savers can sometimes prevent PCs from entering sleep mode, and should be disabled.

Additionally, Microsoft Windows users can find more information about Power Management on the Microsoft Environmental Website and by reading the TechNet article: Sleep or Hibernate?.


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