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January 06, 2012

Companies Consider Powering Down PCs at Night a 'Turnoff,' Research Finds



Many organizations prefer to have “all systems go,” rather than be caught with their power down if a business issue arises, according to the findings of a new study.

Personal computer power management (PCPM) often is distrusted by organizations, despite the cost savings it can deliver, reports London-based technology research firm Ovum. In fact, average power consumption savings of 40 percent are being forfeited, in part due to fear from information technology departments that PCPM solutions may disrupt core IT operations.

“But this is a misconception,” said Rhonda Ascierto, Ovum (News - Alert) senior analyst and author of the report, Selecting a PC Power Management Solution Vendor, which assesses 11 of the leading PCPM solutions. “None of the power-management solutions we review in this report disrupts maintenance or other IT processes.”

In fact, Ovum identifies potential annual power consumption savings of around $36 per PC that is powered down each night—and associated energy reductions of 380 kWh and 586 pounds of CO2 per PC.

“With the cost of electricity rising and increasing pressure on organizations to implement sustainability initiatives, PCPM solutions can be an effective way to reduce energy consumption and, therefore, operating costs,” said Ascierto.

Lack of adoption also may be attributed to IT administrators’ inflated expectations of the effectiveness of built-in power-saving technologies. While newer desktop machines and operating systems have enhanced power-saving features, Ovum believes they still are inadequate— as they are largely unable to tackle “PC insomnia,” which occurs when a machine is idle yet unable to shut down or switch into a low-power mode.

“Organizations need to consider power management solutions as part of their broader business and sustainability strategies. The focus should be on solutions that deliver measurable and actionable results, which will encourage employee participation,” suggested Ascierto.

An August 2011 study by Düsseldorf-based. energy provider E.ON confirms Ovum’s findings: Fully one-third of United Kingdom small and medium enterprises (SMEs) do not turn off their computers at night, the company’s research shows. And that means that U.K. businesses are wasting £30.8 million (US$47.7 million) every single day by leaving their computers running at the end of the workday. Aside from fears of disruption, “Ten percent of small business owners wrongly assume that leaving computers on standby at night uses the same amount of energy as shutting them down completely,” commented Iain Walker, head of Business Sales at E.ON (News - Alert).

Specifically, the organizations that are the best and the worst at powering down are the following:

  • Retail SMEs are the worst offenders, with two-thirds failing to shut down their PCs at night and 59 percent over the weekend;
  • SMEs in the professional sector also performed poorly, with 60 percent leaving their computers on at the end of the working day; and
  • Agricultural companies were the most energy efficient, with 69 percent shutting down their computers every night.


Walker concluded, “Introducing small changes into the culture of your business, like turning equipment off fully at night, can have a significant financial impact on your energy bills.”

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Cheryl Kaften is an accomplished communicator who has written for consumer and corporate audiences. She has worked extensively for MasterCard (News - Alert) Worldwide, Philip Morris USA (Altria), and KPMG, and has consulted for Estee Lauder and the Philadelphia Inquirer Newspapers. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

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