Conserving energy

Software that automatically shuts down computers when they are not in use is saving large organisations up to £13,000 in electricity costs each month.

PowerDown software designed by an engineer at Liverpool University automatically shuts down computer systems if left unused for half an hour.

Using Liverpool University as a testing ground, a team of researchers discovered that 1,600 library-based PCs alone were using 20,000kW each week unnecessarily, equating to approximately £2,400 in current electricity prices.

Lisa Nelson from the university’s Computing Services Department, who designed the software, said: ‘PowerDown is simple to install and staff can choose to opt out if, for example, they are running particular software on a machine overnight without a user being logged in.’

An average PC, left on for 24 hours a day but used for only 40 hours a week, uses around 17kW of electricity, of which 13kW is wasted. That figure does not take into consideration other costs such as in air-conditioned buildings, where additional cooling is required to remove the heat created by active computers.

The team has now received praise for its contributions to environmentally friendly IT in the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) report on IT sustainability.

PowerDown is now in use at several academic institutions across the world.