Software saves money, helps environment

Twenty-seven million gallons of gasoline is a lot, especially when translated to energy savings.

That amount is the equivalent of the more than 500,000 tons of carbon dioxide the federal government could save every year if all 3.2 million of its computer monitors used power management, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Statistics like these are the driving force behind the Energy Star "Sleep is Good" power management campaign developed by the EPA and the Energy Department.

"Only half of all monitors are being [power management] enabled," said Steven Ryan, program manager for the Energy Star Monitor Power Management Campaign at the EPA. "People are getting equipment and turning off the power-saving features immediately."

That spurred the EPA to join DOE to develop software that automatically activate the monitor sleep settings already built into Microsoft Corp. Windows 95/98, Me, 2000 and XP. Better yet, the tools are available as a free download from Energy Star's Web site (

The Software

The Energy Star software comes in two flavors: EZ Save is centrally administered for enterprise use, while EZ Wizard is designed for individual installations.

EZ Save is a suite of small programs that carry out different functions. Administration functions allow information technology managers to configure settings for each computer as well as collect, view and print thorough usage reports and statistics. Managers can also exempt individual computers (such as mission-critical systems) from power-saving activation. There is also a function that can reset machines to their previous power-saving settings.

Using EZ Save, administrators can take continuous samples of network energy use activity and adjust settings to achieve maximum savings.

EZ Wizard can run from the Web if administrators post it on an intranet or Web site, or as a stand-alone application. As a stand-alone application, the program could be e-mailed to end users with a directive to install it. It's also available on CD-ROM.

Both applications are extremely simple to install and use. The EZ Save interface is self-explanatory and intuitive. EZ Wizard is just that: a simple two-question wizard designed for users who are not network savvy. It asks users if they want to activate Energy Star and then asks them to choose one of three time periods for which the computer must be idle before power saving begins. Everything else is automatic.

Be advised that monitors can sometimes take a little time to wake up — our test monitor took 15 to 20 seconds to fully restore the screen. But we think this is a small price to pay for the monetary and environmental savings afforded by the software.

For more information, visit the Energy Star Web site or call their hotline at (888) 782-7937.


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