Amid high-profile efforts to reduce power consumption in data centers, public and private organizations are also trying to promote desktop PC efficiency. The Environmental Protection Agency, for one, offers the free EZ Wizard tool to help users take advantage of the power management features on PC monitors. Snap.com offers a similar tool, CO2 Saver, and there are other free, small programs available.
This month, Microsoft, the Climate Savers Computing Initiative and Verdiem took PC powersaving a step further with Edison, a consumer version of Verdiem's enterprise software that lets users set stricter energy controls. For example, instead of setting a screen saver to activate after 10 or 15 minutes, it lets you set the computer to go into deep sleep, powering down the hard drive and conserving most of a PC's energy use.
It's a worthy effort, even if it only raises awareness of desktop PC conservation. Half the energy that goes into PCs is wasted, according to most estimates. And considering that there are more than a billion PCs in use worldwide ' as many as 90 percent of them without power management features turned on ' that wasted power adds up quickly.
Kevin McCaney is the executive editor of GCN. Follow him on Twitter: @KevinMcCaney.