'Billions wasted by running idle computers' - report

Nearly 50 per cent of all US employees who use a PC at their job do not typically shut down at night. Published by software firm 1E, and the Alliance to Save Energy, the ‘2009 PC Energy Report’, which examines workplace PC power consumption in the US, UK and Germany, found that US organisations waste $2.8bn a year to power 108 m unused machines.

In 2009, these unused PCs are expected to emit approximately 20m tons of carbon dioxide emissions. 1E and the Alliance to Save Energy commissioned Harris Interactive® to conduct the survey to raise awareness of a pervasive and damaging energy problem that can be quickly alleviated by simple, non-intrusive measures.

"Employers today have a golden opportunity to demonstrate their environmental and financial leadership by taking a few simple, energy-saving measures, like setting up processes to power down PCs," said Sumir Karayi, chief executive officer, 1E. "A computer uses energy even when it appears to be idle. Shutting down PCs when not in use will help businesses to significantly reduce costs while preventing tons of CO2 from being emitted into our atmosphere."

Almost half of the employees in each country surveyed (49 per cent in the US, 48 per cent in the UK, and 43 per cent in Germany) do not power down for the following reasons:

  • It takes too long.
  • I forget.
  • To enable overnight software updates from the main server.
  • Its company or IT policy to leave it on.
  • I access my PC remotely.

In respect to national characteristics, the report found that US employees were quite practical in their reasoning for powering down: 21 per cent of those who ever power down do so for the proper functioning of their PC. UK employees were the most idealistic in their responses, with 27 per cent saying they power down PCs to help the environment. German employees were most conscious about saving the employer’s money, with 18 per cent citing their company’s electricity bill as a major factor for powering down.

The survey also found that most employed adults who use a PC at work believe that their companies should be doing more to reduce their power consumption (63 per cent in the US, 67 per cent in the UK, and 58 per cent in Germany). In fact, a significant amount of workers believe that their companies should be doing much more to reduce power consumption in the workplace (30 per cent in the UK, 24 per cent in the US, and 22 per cent in Germany).

The survey was conducted online within the United States, Germany, and the UK by Harris Interactive on behalf of 1E and the Alliance Save Energy. In the US, a survey was conducted between September 4-8, 2008 among 2,112 US adults 18+, of whom 1,258 are employed and a follow-up survey was conducted between October 15-17, 2008 among 2,631 US adults 18+, of who 1,717 are employed. In Germany, it was conducted between September 3-12, 2008 among 2,028 German adults 18+, of who 1,432 are employed. In the UK, it was conducted between September 3-12, 2008 among 2,021 UK adults 18+, of who 1,273 are employed.

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