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A Way to Save Thousands of Dollars

In the current spirit of budgetary restraint and environmental responsibility, administrators in Information and Technology Services have identified a way to save tens of thousands of dollars a year and conserve energy resources, all with minimal effort and staff hours, and no inconvenience: by putting college computer monitors “to sleep.”

That is, by activating a power-saving option that automatically shuts down campus computer monitors when not in use, the college could save up to $60,000 a year by conserving hundreds of thousands of kilowatt hours (enough electricity to power several hundred U.S. homes for a month).

The process uses software, developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which works with all computers operating Windows.

It’s easy to forget that it takes a considerable amount of nonrenewable energy to operate the college’s more than 2,000 computer monitors in campus offices and labs—not to mention another 2,500 student-owned computers. Studies show that a large percentage of computer users leave their machines on all day and night, despite using them for only a cumulative few hours daily.

That translates into thousands of dollars (and kilowatts of electricity) wasted. At Smith, where monitor-sleeping software is not widely used, estimates range from $7,000 to $60,000 unnecessarily spent each year to power unused monitor screens.

By activating the Windows component on each campus computer that will automatically shut down the screen after a set period of dormancy, Smith will save that wasted money and electricity.

In the coming weeks, ITS personnel will send email to all staff members announcing the activations, which will be completed through Novell file servers without any inconvenience to computer users. ITS will then activate the energy-saving option on all staff members’ college-owned computers running Windows. The default setting will automatically instruct the computer monitor to shut down if the keyboard has not been touched for 10 minutes. As soon as a key is touched, the monitor will come back on.

Eventually students, who own their own computers, and faculty members will be encouraged to voluntarily activate the Windows and Macintosh power-saving option individually.

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