The nuts and bolts of PC Power Management

The Solutions

PC Power Management Software

Implementing specialized power management software to shut down PCs and monitors when not in use is by far the best way to gain energy efficiencies. These technologies typically cost between $10-$20 per device and will allow a central administrator to set shut-down policy and manage exceptions, as well as giving you the ability to report on savings. Advanced tools also provide the ability to save and properly close documents upon shutdown, and allow for scheduled patches or updates to occur seamlessly.

How Does it Work?

There is an open industry standard called Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) which provides a standard programming interface that allows an operating system to directly control the hardware’s power saving aspects. This makes it possible to automatically turn off components such as monitors and hard drives after set periods of inactivity. It’s also possible to put the machine into hibernate, which turns off nearly all components, including the CPU and the system RAM, greatly reducing the system’s electricity usage. ACPI is a successor to an earlier Intel-Microsoft standard called Advanced Power Management, which allows a computer’s BIOS to control power management functions.

Windows® 7

The Windows® 7 operating system provides several opportunities to decrease power consumption across the enterprise. The power management technologies in Windows 7 provide platform and processor efficiencies that reduce power consumption and can help lower energy costs. Windows 7 can also extend battery life for specific scenarios. Additionally, it provides diagnostic tools that enable OEM, IHVs, ISVs and IT pros to better manage and troubleshoot power management issues on computers and to extend the battery life for portable computers.


ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Energy and Natural Resources Canada’s Office of Energy Efficiency. Its goal is to help consumers save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices. Results are already adding up! Americans, with the help of ENERGY STAR, saved enough energy in 2007 alone to avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 27 million cars — all while saving $16 billion on their utility bills. Through partnerships with more than 12,000 private and public sector organizations, ENERGY STAR delivers the technical information and tools that organizations and consumers need to choose energy-efficient solutions and best management practices in over 50 different product categories.


ENERGY STAR qualified monitors use from 25–60% less electricity than standard models, depending on how they are used. In Sleep Mode, computer monitor models must consume 2 watts or less and in Off Mode, computer monitor models must consume 1 watt or less. Also, monitors must contain power management features and that can turn it off at night.

Desktops, Laptops and Tablets

The EPA recently strengthened the requirements for earning the ENERGY STAR to meet energy use guidelines in three distinct operating modes: standby, active, and sleep modes. This ensures energy savings when computers are being used and performing a range of tasks, as well as when they are in standby. ENERGY STAR qualified computers must also have a more efficient internal power supply which is 85 percent energy-efficient – meaning, it wastes no more than 15 percent of its power through heat.

Printers, Scanners and all-on-one devices

ENERGY STAR printers, scanners, and all-in-one devices cost about the same as standard imaging equipment, but use 25% less electricity on average. The must also be able to print double-sided pages which reduces paper costs. Efficient designs help ENERGY STAR equipment run cooler and last longer, so businesses that use these products may also save on air conditioning and maintenance.

Coming Soon…Servers!

The data center contributes a large amount to IT’s carbon footprint and the US Environmental Protection Agency hopes to introduce its first Energy Star rating for servers by the end of the year.

When All Else Fails

If you are still without an ability to manage your PCs and monitors it is certainly wise to ask employees to turn off printers, monitors, computers and other desktop devices when they leave work. To help drive a change in behavior you can do after-hours inspections and leave reminder stickers to reinforce the expectations. Providing rewards or even penalties can also be a big motivator. For machines which are frequently un-used you can also install plug load occupancy sensors. This technology typically uses passive infrared or ultrasonic detection to turn off the device.

About Danielle Williams

As a Category Marketing Lead for Softchoice, Danielle was responsible for designing and executing marketing campaigns which include valuable information about the current issues and challenges in the IT world.