PC Power Management Tips Reduce Energy Needs, Costs

In the current economic climate, every organization is trying to lower expenses. At the same time, we all want to engage in more environmentally sustainable practices. PC power management is a great way to accomplish both goals by reducing energy use and costs simultaneously. Implementation of a power management system is not always straightforward though.

To begin, it is important to note that your first move toward power management should not be your most drastic, as you do not want to risk alienating staff in the process. Since most users have not yet encountered their machines automatically going to sleep during the day, or turning completely off at night, it might take a little time for them to adjust. That is why it is better it start with less in the beginning, and fine tune your policies over time.

Users notice everything about their computers, especially if it has been altered in some way. This is why it becomes so important to help your IT department enforce these new changes. Though it should be made clear that from a financial perspective, green IT power management comes with a quick return on a company’s investment; the initial cost of implementing such a program will be carried by the IT department. The catch is that the IT department typically does not receive any budgetary benefits from lower energy bills, so it is important to secure that team’s buy-in early.

Some users may think it would be more efficient to just switch their machines to ‘off’ in the evening than to use power management software. The reality is that PC power management is just an afterthought for most users, as they do not personally benefit from reducing their workplace energy usage. As with many things that require repeated human interaction, continual reinforcement to maintain the effectiveness of this manual process becomes imperative. This is one example of why businesses invest in automated systems.

Although many organizations have tried in the past, creating home grown solutions to remedy the need for a power management solution may be more trouble than it is worth. Writing computer scripts that list commands to turn off a computer without user interaction, or using a group policy (GPO) to control what users can and cannot do on a computer system will only get you so far. Production environments have many complexities that self-scripting will need to overcome, making the above methods less effective. Without flexibility and granularity, homegrown solutions soon wither and die due to lack of available resources or human skills. PC power management is a discipline of systems management and there are very few companies that do not have some kind of investment in these tools. To patch and deliver software these tools go above and beyond what the plain OS and GPO/login scripts provide, and PC power management is no different.

There is a common misconception with regard to screen savers and energy conservation because screen savers actually consume more energy than if they were not enabled at all. Once used for screen burning, where static images burnt themselves into the screen, today they are purely used for entertainment purposes, and should not be confused with power management.

Operating systems such as Windows or Mac OS were designed to ask permission from the running applications before trying to conserve energy or shut down, ultimately backing off when any sign of activity is detected. Applications such as terminal services, databases, Adobe and Autocad will keep the native Windows power policy from working, leading to most devices never having the opportunity to shut down, and thereby wasting thousands of dollars for most businesses. With so much at stake, it becomes imperative to closely monitor metrics to determine how much a company is actually saving by implementing a power management solution. Power management software systems offer metrics to help users determine just how effective their energy policy is by tracking the savings that are being made, while also providing user feedback to promote the benefits of the policies and its solutions.

The process of putting a power management program into action has never been easier. With simple onsite evaluation software that is easily installed, and agents that deploy the same day, companies can collect metrics and position policies just hours after power management software has been installed. Some PC power management solutions even offer hosted capabilities so businesses do not have to worry about providing a server.

It might be hard to believe, but green IT PC power management comes at little to no cost. With full return on investment achieved in six to 12 months for on-premise software installations, and many utilities offering rebates which pay entirely for the project, there is little reason to not include a power saving program in a company’s business plan. Unfortunately not all PC power management tools are created equal, with only a few having become pre-qualified to allow customers to receive rebates, so do your research ahead of time.

PC power management can be placed in a rare category of IT projects that not only save money, but help the environment, while providing a positive public image for your company. Some of the most successful business projects are those that focus on a company’s environmental endeavors, or willingness to make eco-friendly changes. There are so many ways a company can win by saving money and helping the environment, and it all starts with taking necessary, but small steps toward energy efficiency and green IT power management.

Ashley Leonard is president and CEO of Verismic, www.verismic.com, and previously of NetworkD Group, which he founded in 1996. NetworkD is a leading information technology support provider with offices in North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific regions. Previously, Ashley was president and CEO of Miami-based Genisys Computer Services Inc., which provided comprehensive IT service consulting to the banking community.