computers

ENERGY STAR Takes Computer Energy Efficiency to a Whole New Level

By: RJ Meyers

Starting this fall, computer lovers have a new way to get their hands on the most innovative products on the market—while saving energy, saving money and protecting the climate. In August, EPA’s ENERGY STAR program expanded its coverage of computer products and now labels slate and tablet devices, two-in-one computers, and portable all-in-ones. ENERGY STAR slates and tablets are independently certified, meet international standards limiting hazardous material content, and are designed to be easily recycled. It’s a win-win for those keeping up with the latest tech and for the environment.

The new devices earning the ENERGY STAR label include some of the most popular computer products on the market, offering the latest in innovation, along with the benefit of energy savings. Those devices include:

  • Slates and tablets: These products have been very popular in recent years and are increasingly used in both homes and offices.
  • Two-in-one computers: Portable computers that have detachable touchscreens, allowing them to function as both notebooks and slate/tablets.
  • Portable all-in-ones (pAIOs): These devices have a combination of features found in integrated desktops and slate/tablets. They have large screens and are meant primarily for desktop use, coming with a stand or physical mount plus a keyboard. However, they have a touchscreen and a small battery pack, allowing them to be picked up and used as large mobile devices for limited amounts of time.

The computer market has transformed significantly since the introduction of the first consumer-facing tablets in 2009 and 2010. Many of the personal and business functions that have long been conducted on desktop and laptop computers are now performed on smaller, more mobile devices. People clearly appreciate the convenience and mobility of these products, but may not realize that these devices also typically consume much less energy than larger computers. If you look for one that has the ENERGY STAR, you will be getting the most energy-efficient products on the market.

All of the above devices can consume much less energy than traditional desktops or notebooks and still provide many of the features and applications that users need. While you probably shouldn’t recycle your desktop or notebook, you can use them less. And, with the exception of pAIOs, most of these new products are lighter than a typical notebook and can be taken with you on the go. You can enjoy your music, movies, and books, plus get work done anywhere—and use less energy to do it all.

RJ Meyers joined ENERGY STAR in late 2010 and has since developed energy efficiency specifications for a range of IT equipment. RJ has a background in physics, electrical engineering, and sustainable energy and is told constantly by his family and friends that he is a huge nerd.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Making copies the Energy Efficient Way

Imaging

By: Chris Kent

Pop quiz: Does your home/office imaging equipment (printer, copier, scanner, etc.) have the ENERGY STAR label? If it does, consider yourself a very smart shopper. On average, imaging equipment that is ENERGY STAR certified is 40 – 55 percent more efficient than a standard model. From copiers and printers, to fax machines and scanners, imaging equipment accounts for some of the first products to ever earn the ENERGY STAR label. As these products grow in use in homes and offices across the country, EPA’s ENERGY STAR program continues to make strides in making them more energy efficient.

Through the years, EPA has strengthened the energy efficiency requirements so that models meeting the latest requirements will be more energy efficient than ever. Now, by meeting requirements to enter low-power “sleep” modes when inactive, and using efficient power supplies, an ENERGY STAR certified copier saves energy when it is in use AND when it is not.

Looking for ways to cut down your imaging costs even more? Consider purchasing an all-in-one device the next time you are in the market. An all-in-one device (or multifunction device) that meets ENERGY STAR requirements can result in significant energy and paper savings for businesses.  The multifunction device typically performs two or more functions (scan, copy, print, fax) housed within one unit.  By comparison, with single-function devices every piece of networked equipment uses electricity, even when it is not in use.  But by combining these functions into one device, you can save on electricity costs by reducing the number of devices into one integrated unit.  Also, these multifunction devices are where industry is incorporating innovative energy saving technologies, so despite having multiple functions, a multifunction device may actually use less energy than a comparable single function unit.

If your printer/copier/multifunction device is older than 5 years, it is likely that your printer’s energy consumption is about 50% higher than a new machine.  Industry continues to make great strides in improving the energy performance of imaging equipment and ENERGY STAR continues to revise its requirements to recognize these top performers.

Some features that save on energy, paper and ink costs include:

  • Sleep mode and automatic shut off: ENERGY STAR products are required to automatically go into a reduced power state after a specified period of inactivity.  This provides great energy savings.
  • Automatic double-sided printing/duplexing: Automatically setting a printer or multifunction device to print double sided saves up to 50% of your paper usage.  Printer and multifunction devices that can produce images on both sides of the paper by automatically flipping the paper make it easier to produce a double-sided page, which cuts down on paper use.  Paper is the largest energy impact associated with printing, and in most cases, making this change does not cost anything additional.
  • Various quality settings: Many units have more than one quality setting and using a lower quality or draft mode when printing draft or internal documents can save ink.
  • Color vs Monochromatic: Printing in color generally does not use any additional energy than printing in monochromatic. But you can spend more on ink depending on the machine you choose. Units that use one cartridge for all colors tend to waste more ink than units with individual color cartridges. This is because colors are used at different rates, but the cartridge must be replaced once any one color has run out.

When looking to buy a new printer or multifunction device, go the ENERGY STAR Imaging Equipment product finder to find the right product for your needs.   And remember, think before printing.

Chris Kent

About the Author: Chris Kent has worked at EPA for 25 years and for the last 7 years has been the product lead for the ENERGY STAR imaging product development. 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Don’t Let That Used Phone Go To Waste

By Lina Younes

The other day, I was looking through the newspaper ads checking out cell phones, computers, TVs and other electronics. Even though I’m not planning to buy anything special right now, I like to see what the market has to offer. The latest developments in mobile technology and electronics are hard to resist, though, even for the most frugal shopper. It’s funny, but when I even hint at getting new cell phones for the family, my children quickly declare that the new features are “must-haves.”

While the new features and available applications might be great, think carefully about whether you really need a new phone. Is your current phone damaged beyond repair, or can you still use it? Have you thought of donating or recycling it?

Electronic products, like cell phones and computers, contain valuable materials like precious metals. By recycling them, you can conserve natural resources and avoid water and air pollution generated during the manufacturing process. Recycling a million cell phones means we can recover 35,000 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium. In turn, these recovered materials can be reused to manufacture new products.

Some retailers offer the option to donate or recycle electronics at their stores. You can check out which companies have recycling centers in your area.  Community organizations also work with retailers to host e-cycling events. You’d be surprised how many electronics are recycled at these events.

If you decide that your current cell phone is perfectly fine and you don’t need a new one, we might have a green mobile app available for you. Check out our site for nearly 300 apps that will help you understand and protect the environment. This green technology is just a click away.

 About the author:  Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual Communications Liaison for EPA. She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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New and Improved ENERGY STAR Product Finder

Eamon Monahan

Eamon Monahan, EPA

By: Eamon Monahan

The ENERGY STAR label is great because it’s simple – nearly everyone knows that a product with the little blue square has been independently certified to meet strict energy efficiency requirements. But if you are looking for more information about these products, you should check out EPA’s recently updated product finder. It is a fantastic resource for those interested in more of the technical details and features of specific products, in a broad range of categories – including electronics, appliances, lighting, and heating and cooling equipment. With the rollout of the ENERGY STAR product finder over the course of 2013, EPA has made data easier to find, understand, and use than ever before.

Compared to the old Excel-based approach, the ENERGY STAR product finder represents a huge improvement in usability. The basic view is designed to resemble the kind of experience that consumers are familiar with while browsing retail sites. Users are able to sort and filter results based on the key criteria they are interested in, as well as compare results for up to four different products. A keyword search also allows you to zero in on a particular brand name or model number, even a portion of a model number.

For the more technically inclined, an advanced view allows open access to the complete data set for each ENERGY STAR product category. The Excel-based lists are still available here, but the data can also be downloaded in five other formats for easy machine-readability. Users can create unique data visualizations and custom reports based on real-time data, and they are encouraged to create accounts to save and share their work.

Access to the dataset’s API (application programming interface) also allows users to create their own tools and apps based on certified product data. An app could, for example, help people identify what size refrigerator they should look for to replace an old one, then provide a list of ENERGY STAR certified models that meet that criteria.

EPA hopes individuals and businesses will take full advantage of this improved access to product performance data, to make it easier than ever for consumers to make informed decisions on energy efficient products. To get started browsing through ENERGY STAR certified products or developing your own innovative mobile app based on EPA’s data, visit the ENERGY STAR website.

Eamon Monahan works on program integrity and communications for the ENERGY STAR products program. He oversees the testing and certification process for all 65 product categories and assisted in the development of the ENERGY STAR product finder tool. 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Career Advice from Yvette

yvette-panda

I am always very happy when I come across an easy to use, pleasantly appealing website.  I never really think about all that goes into creating this website.  I sat down with Yvette Pina to learn more about her work for the EPA’s web pages.

What is your position at the EPA?

I am a Visual Information Specialist.  I work on the web team to create and maintain web pages.

Do you have prior work experiences that lead you to the EPA?

I have a degree in Chemistry, with an emphasis on computational chemistry, which is chemistry combined with computer science.  I started at the EPA as a Field Chemist Intern.  I always had a knack for computers, so after my internship I applied to be a Computer Technician.

What is a typical day like for you?

Every day I check the news and events page to make sure everything is up-to-date.  Region 5 has a web support email which we manage as best as we can.  We handle cases of high priority first and then respond to requests as they come in.

What is the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is when people are satisfied with their web pages.  It is great to know people are content and like the way the web pages look.

Did you always have an interest in the environment?

None what so ever.  I didn’t even know what the EPA was!  I applied with a job through the Department of Justice and they connected me with the EPA.  However, since coming to the EPA my interest has grown and I have learned so much.  It’s hard not to.

What classes did you take in school that you use on the job today?

I took lots of computer programming classes.  I have always had an interest and knack for computers, even in high school when computers were new.

Do you have any advice for kids today who have an interest in protecting our environment?

Pursue your interests.  Figure out what motivates you.  What piques your curiosity?  Follow that!

Kelly Siegel is a student volunteer in the EPA’s Air and Radiation Division in Region 5, and is currently obtaining her Master’s degree in Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  She has a passion for sustainable development, running, and traveling with friends.

 

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Should You Buy a Desktop or a Laptop?

Computer

By: Robert Meyers

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have passed, but many people are still looking to buy new computers for the holidays.  But what kind of computer?  Do you really need a desktop, or can a laptop do the same job just as well?  Many believe that you need a desktop for home use, but I’m here to tell you that laptops have become quite powerful in recent years and can completely replicate the desktop experience.

Since this is ENERGY STAR’s blog, you can guess why I’m writing about laptops versus desktops.  Energy consumption!  New, energy efficient laptops can consume anywhere from 50% – 80% less energy than a desktop.  And based on our experiences here at ENERGY STAR, we estimate that ultrabooks and netbooks can go even further and consume about 80% – 90% less energy.  With a docking station, external monitor, keyboard, and mouse, you won’t even feel that you’re using a laptop.

Whether or not you should go with a laptop depends on your needs.  Do you use your computer for word processing, email, music, video watching, photo editing, web browsing, or even some light to moderate gaming?  A laptop does all of this just as well as a desktop.  Do you run high-end games, render videos/3D models, program and number crunch for work, or need to run a very large number of processes at once?  Then a desktop might be a better choice, although even here some higher-end laptops can cover many of these uses.  For those worried about graphics, integrated graphics solutions have become very powerful recently and now have capabilities equal to entry level graphics cards.  Additionally, many laptops are capable of hosting discrete graphics cards if you need one.

Desktops will provide an edge in raw power and graphics, but laptops do a great job with all of the common, everyday tasks that most people need computers for these days.  I’m writing this blog on my work computer, which is a four year old laptop on a docking station that’s plugged into dual monitors, plus a separate keyboard and mouse.  I almost always am simultaneously running an email client, a word processor, a spreadsheet application, multiple web browser windows, and an antivirus program without any problems. 

For most people, it’s a no-brainer:  Laptops can provide the exact same services and experience as a desktop with much less than half the energy consumption.  Plus, you can pick them up and take them with you when you when you leave the house!  I’d love to see a desktop do that.

Biography:  RJ joined ENERGY STAR in late 2010 and immediately began work on energy efficiency specifications for a range of IT equipment.  RJ has a background in physics, electrical engineering, and sustainable energy and is told constantly by his family and friends that he is a huge nerd.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Rock a Bye Computer on the Desktop…

Computer

By Steve Ryan

Have you ever had trouble sleeping at night and the next day you feel drained?  Well, it may surprise you to learn that your computer may be experiencing insomnia as well.  In fact, it may not be getting any sleep at all resulting in a big energy drain.  While it may still perform with no problems, your electricity bill may not fare so well.

Did you know that you can save energy, help protect the environment, and shave up to $75 off your annual electric bill by activating the power management features on your computer? Get step by step instructions here to learn how easy it is to set your computer to automatically switch to sleep mode, which also allows it to run cooler and last longer.

You can shave the energy use of your laptop too, by activating your laptop’s system standby and hibernate features in the AC power profile—which will save power when the notebook is plugged into the wall.

I also recommend against using a screensaver when your computer monitor is not active (let it switch to sleep mode or turn the monitor off instead). Today’s monitors no longer need screen savers to help extend their life and certain screen savers can double a computer’s energy use.

If you really want to save some more energy (and looking for a potential raise), check to see if your office computer is going to sleep. Even if there are only 50 computers in your office, you could possibly save your employer up to $3,500 in annual energy costs by making the switch. Work for a bigger organization? General Electric activated the power management features on 75,000 computers and saved an estimated $2.5 million in one year.

But don’t feel like you have to save the whole world. Start at home and just take one simple step that will save you money and help the environment…helping you sleep better at night!

For more tips and information about computer power management, visit ENERGY STAR’s website.

About the author: Steve Ryan joined EPA’s ENERGY STAR program in 1999. He currently manages a national campaign to promote power management called “The Low Carbon IT Campaign.”  For more information and to get step by step instructions on how to put your computer into low power mode, go to http://www.energystar.gov/powermanagement.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Remember to E-Cycle!

By Lina Younes

Electronic items are popular gifts for dads and recent grads. Items such as computers, widescreen TVs, game stations, camcorders, eReaders and mobile phones quickly come to mind as ideal gifts for that special person. Personally, I like looking at the ads for electronic items in the Sunday paper to see the latest gadgets available in the market. To me it’s fascinating to see the latest technological developments in electronics. It’s hard not to resist buying the latest computer that is much faster, much lighter, and has a longer-lasting battery.

However, if you decide to buy the latest game system, computer, or cellphone, what are you planning to do with the old one? Have you heard of eCycling? You can donate computers, TVs, cellphones to non-profit organizations to extend the life-cycle of those items. I’m sure they may still have more years of good use. However, there is another option that is even better for the environment. How about recycling your used and unwanted electronic items? That’s known as eCycling!

The process of eCycling allows many of the valuable metals and components in those electronics to be reused in other useful products. Did you know that most electronic products contain valuable resources such as precious metals and engineered plastics which require considerable energy to manufacture? By recycling, these valuable materials are recovered for future reuse. During this process, virgin resources are conserved and there is a lower environmental impact overall. To put these numbers in context, did you know that in the United States by recycling approximately 414,000 tons of electronics in 2007, the release of greenhouse gases prevented was the equivalent of the annual emissions of more than 178,000 cars?

So, whether you’re recycling a computer or a cellphone or a TV, check with the store where you’re buying the new electronics. They will likely have an eCycling program available so you can safely retire your used electronic products. Furthermore, states, municipalities and schools have computer collection programs for their residents from time to time to help protect the environment.

Just some ideas on how to go green with your electronics. Any suggestions? We will love to hear from you.

About the author: Lina Younes is the Multilingual Outreach and Communications Liaison for EPA. Among her duties, she’s responsible for outreach to Hispanic organizations and media. She spearheaded the team that recently launched EPA’s new Spanish website, www.epa.gov/espanol . She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. She’s currently the editor of EPA’s new Spanish blog, Conversando acerca de nuestro medio ambiente. Prior to joining the agency, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and an international radio broadcaster. She has held other positions in and out of the Federal Government.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Question of the Week: After you buy a new computer, what do you do with the old one?

Each week we ask a question related to the environment. Please let us know your thoughts as comments. Feel free to respond to earlier comments or post new ideas. Previous questions.

Last week, we asked what you think about when you buy a new computer. Now we want to know about the old ones. You can “ecycle,donate them to charity, give them to a friend, etc. Some people store them because they’re not quite sure what to do.

After you buy a new computer, what do you do with the old one?

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En español: Cada semana hacemos una pregunta relacionada al medio ambiente. Por favor comparta con nosotros sus pensamientos y comentarios. Siéntase en libertad de responder a comentarios anteriores o plantear nuevas ideas. Preguntas previas.

La semana pasada, le preguntamos sobre lo que piensa al comprar una nueva computadora. Ahora queremos saber qué hace con las viejas. Puede reciclar los aparatos electrónicos al donarlos a entidades caritativas, o a algún amigo, etc. Algunas personas las almacenan porque no tienen claro qué hacer con ellas.

¿Después que compra una computadora nueva, qué hace con la computadora vieja?

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Question of the Week: When it comes to computers, do you minimize energy use?

Each week we ask a question related to the environment. You can answer the poll or let us know your thoughts as comments. Feel free to respond to earlier comments or post new ideas. Previous questions.

It’s time to go back to school, so many Americans are replacing their computers. You can look for the Energy Star label to find one that uses less electricity. When you get your computer home, you can choose energy-saving settings like when to turn off the monitor.

When it comes to computers, do you minimize energy use?
(leave a comment | en español)

[poll id=”7″]

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En español: Cada semana hacemos una pregunta relacionada al medio ambiente. Por favor comparta con nosotros sus pensamientos y comentarios. Siéntase en libertad de responder a comentarios anteriores o plantear nuevas ideas. Preguntas previas.

Ha llegado el regreso al colegio y muchos estadounidenses están reemplazando sus computadoras. Busque la etiqueta Energy Star para encontrar una que use menos electricidad. En casa, puede seleccionar opciones para ahorrar energía como apagar el monitor.

¿Cuando se trata de computadoras, cómo minimiza el uso de energía?

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.