Home Business Energy Audit? How to DIY–

Ok, I’ll admit it. I’m a bit of a technology junkie. I have large amounts of tech in my home office. I figure that since I’ve got a 40 step commute in the morning and my primary transportation is a 90mpg 125cc Yamaha Vino, that I can afford a bit of extra electricity use.

However, what do you think… Is this taking things too far???

I have 2 computers here including a laptop and a desktop driving 3 different monitors. On the other side of the room is another computer that my son uses. Along with 2 other laptops in the house (wife and daughter) we have 5 computers. They all share the 1 printer.

For my office here at home, I know there are free online tools for residential audits that will walk me through a process, however they don’t usually take into account home business or special uses like I have.  The utility companies, Energy Star and similar programs, and groups such as the Residential Energy Services Network offer checklists and online calculators.

I have my monitors and computers set to sleep after just 5 minutes. I will turn the monitors off via a smart-switch at night which allows me to totally shut off the power and not just power them down. In a modern laptop, 41% of the energy goes to powering the monitor. Imagine what it is in my situation with this much monitor usage going on?

For me, the most obvious culprit is my computers and monitors. I’ve switched over to Windows 7 for all my computing and I love it. Microsoft has put together a great OS for saving energy. See here for Windows 7 Energy Efficiency News. If you’ve not explored the control for power, I suggest you make it your new friend. From here, you control all the power options for your desktop or laptop system. For laptops this is very important and determine how long your battery will last.

The easiest way to save power on a desktop PC is reduce the display idle timeout to something very aggressive, such as 2 or 5 minutes. If you have a screen saver enabled, disable it to allow the display to turn off. On a mobile PC, the easiest way to extend battery life is to reduce the brightness of the display in addition.  Also note that many of the new all-in-one machines use laptop components and thus from a power management perspective look like laptops.

This chart shows Sleep mode is the most efficient mode for the unit to be in when not in use.  Sleep consumes nearly the same amount of power as Shut Down, but resumes the system in less than 2 seconds, instead of going through the boot process.  You can see that boot takes a significant amount of power so when considering whether to turn off your machine to save power or to put it into a low power state, think about how long your machine will be out of use.

I’d be very interested in hearing what you have to say about saving energy for the small business owner working out of a home office.


About Garen Thatcher

All about me? I want to make this all about you and what I can do to make your life better, smarter, and richer. Research into energy and money saving home activities is my hobby and passion. I'm also investing in it for the future. This is my journey in helping us all.
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