Use your computer efficiently

use your computer in an energy efficient wayA recent controversial report claimed that just two google searches could emit as much carbon dioxide as a kettle boiling enough water for a cup of tea; roughly 7g of CO2.

Google refuted the study, putting the figure at 0.2g per search. That doesn’t sound a lot until you consider that between us, we do over 200 million searches per day.

I’m not expecting you to turn your computers off after reading that, but here are some tips to make your internet surfing as eco friendly as you can:

Keep your old computer

It might sound strange, but hang on to your existing computer for as long as you can. It’s tempting to rush out and buy the latest ‘green’ or ‘energy efficient’ laptop, but when you consider the manufacturing ‘cost’ to the environment of a new machine; it’s better to keep the one you have for as long as possible.

Change your power setting

Set your power savings to 15 minutes or less. This means your monitor and hard drive will go into sleep mode if they are not used for 15 minutes.

Energy star believe you can cut the electricity used by your PCs roughly in half, by making good use of power saving management. This could equate to £50-150 per PC annually.

Energy saving search engine

Try using an energy saving search engine, such as Blackle. It is said that an all white web page uses about 74 watts to display, while an all black page uses only 59 watts. Estimates are that if we all switched to a Black Google, we could collectively save 750 Megawatt-hours a Year.

According to Blackle, every time you search using their search engine, you save energy because the screen is predominantly black.


If you leave your personal computer on standby, it’s always drawing some kind of power. Depending on what kind of mode you’re in that power can be anywhere between five watts to 60 and beyond.

According to Scott Richards from power supply manufacturer Antec; if a million PC users switched to a more efficient power supply, it would save almost the equivalent of 250 thousand litres of gasoline a day.

The simple message is; turn your computer completely off at the end of the day; don’t leave it on standby. If you’re likely to forget to turn your peripherals off standby, use an intellipanel.

Recycle your computer

At the end of its useful life, recycle your computer. Either offer it on Freecycle, sell it on eBay or send it to an approved recycling scheme.

What are your tips for efficient computing?


  1. Wilson Pon on July 10, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Mrs. Green, I bought my first computer nine years ago and it’s still in a good condition. I mostly switch off my computer, while I’m not using it, as computer is the third household appliance, which is wasting the most energy, only after the air-conditioner and refrigerator!

  2. Mrs Green on July 26, 2009 at 11:25 am

    @Wilson Pon: Hi Wilson, it’s great that your computer is still going strong after that amount of time; I’m impressed. Interesting that you have found it to be such a user of energy. Can I ask how you figured that out? Do you have a special meter or have you just looked at the energy ratings?

  3. echo123 on August 2, 2009 at 11:34 am

    I found your recommandations good. But we should consider that the old computer has a pretty high energy consumption and will that in time still emits a signifacant amount of carbon dioxide. I suggest buying a reliable laptop instead and sticking to it 😉

  4. Mrs Green on August 7, 2009 at 7:01 am

    @echo123: Hi Echo123, thanks for taking time to leave a comment.
    It’s such a conundrum isn’t it? Should we keep the old appliances (and cars) that use a lot of energy or ditch them in favour of less hungry gadgets.
    While I agree that reducing energy consumption is important, we also need to look at the ‘bigger picture’ of the masses of energy and resources needed to make and ship a new product.
    I’m just not sure where I stand with this argument at times.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts though; it’s great to be ‘provoked’ to think about these issues again.