San Francisco Department of the Environment

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How can I save energy and money while using my computer?

Many computers use as much power when inactive as they do when they are in full use. Follow these energy saving tips to ensure that your computer is using only as much energy as it needs. More efficient energy use means less greenhouse gas emissions and a lower utility bill!  

  • Turn off your screen saver - Screen savers require the same amount of energy as when your computer is in use. Instead, use your computer's power management options to program your computer to go into “sleep” or “energy saver” mode after ten or fifteen minutes of inactivity.
  • Turn off your computer's wi-fi, bluetooth, and infrared devices if you are not using them.  
  • Shut off the computer if it will not be used for more than 2 hours. Use a surge protector so you can turn off all of your computer-related electronics when you are not using them. This saves on “vampire” or “phantom” loads, which occur when appliances use energy when they are plugged in but are not being used. Phantom loads can account for up to ten percent of a home’s electricity use!
  • Turn down the brightness of your monitor.
  • Make sure any new computer purchases are Energy Star rated (and safely dispose of your old computer with RecycleWhere!)

Energy-Saving Opportunities for Your Home or Office 

What's Your Watt? Find out exactly how much energy your household or office appliances use through the What’s Your Watt program! What’s Your Watt allows San Francisco residents to check out watt meters from their local San Francisco branch library. Watt meters show you how much energy your household appliances consume, their operating costs, and environmental impact. Once you know how much each device uses, you can tackle each one in turn.

SF Energy Watch - For commercial computer networks, the SF Energy Watch program offers financial incentives for network level computer management software. The software automatically controls the power settings of networked computers (Mac or PC) at the server level. For more information, visit SF Energy Watch's Commercial Program or email energywatch@sfenvironment.org.

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