SAN FRANCISCO (March 21, 2007) -- Innovative energy-saving solutions created with help from a top expert at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and built into the latest version of Microsoft Windows can save customers about $50 each year for every desktop computer equipped with the new software. Used widely, new power management tools in the Vista operating system could shave $500 million off the nation’s energy bill and eliminate 3 million tons of global warming pollution, according to NRDC.
“There are around 50 million computers out there in America’s offices, dens and living rooms that are left on when they aren’t being used, often around the clock,” said NRDC’s Noah Horowitz. “Building better power management into new machines and making sure that it is activated at the factory can save users at least half a billion dollars each year and eliminate enough pollution to equal the emissions from 380,000 cars.”
The Microsoft partnership is one of several such initiatives by NRDC, which is fast emerging as the go-to environmental group for high tech companies looking to improve the energy efficiency performance of their products. NRDC also is pursuing energy-related projects with HP, Dell, Intel, AMD and Sun Microsystems. NRDC played a central role in developing new Energy Star standards for monitors and computers, and is working to reduce the huge amounts of energy used by internet server farms.
“As the economy becomes more technology-intensive, these kinds of electronics make up a bigger and bigger share of the nation’s energy bill. That means they also account for a growing amount of pollution, too,” Horowitz said. “That’s why we are working with both hardware and software companies to deliver high performance energy-saving solutions. And everywhere we look we find new opportunities.”
The key to energy savings in the new Windows Vista is a new and improved ‘sleep’ mode that cuts energy use more than 95 percent by automatically shutting down the monitor and processor when they’re not in use. The system comes back to life in two seconds or less, exactly where the user left it, with the touch of a mouse. Laptops running Windows Vista will go into sleep mode as soon as the lid is closed.
“It’s simple common sense combined with good engineering,” Horowitz said. “Those savings can add up to some pretty impressive numbers.”
Not long ago, researchers simply turned on the power management functions on 75,000 computers and monitors running on earlier versions of Windows at General Electric. The company wound up saving $2.5 million a year in electricity costs, and enough energy to run 23,000 homes.
Vista’s energy-saving tools are far more seamless than earlier versions, making them easier and more attractive for consumers and office IT managers to use, whether they have two computers or 2,000.
“At Microsoft, our commitment to environmental sustainability can be seen in the approaches we take to preserve and improve the environment. We have built features into Windows Vista to make it more energy-efficient, and we are partnering with groups like the NRDC to draw attention to the importance of power consumption,” says Michael Rawding, Vice President, Microsoft Corporate Affairs.
Recently, NRDC has also been involved in efforts to ‘green’ the Oscars, the Grammys and several major league sports teams. The organization also helped negotiate a set of unprecedented environmental commitments as part of the record-setting buyout of the TXU electric utility company.
Savings for Non-Vista Users Too
There are plenty of ways for computer users who haven’t switched to Windows Vista to save energy, too. For instance they can bid farewell to the floating logos, chasing pipes or flying toasters used as screensavers.
“An idle computer running a screensaver consumes as much power as a computer in full use,” Horowitz explained. “Today’s machines simply don’t need screensavers. Even if you’re not running Windows Vista, you can save a few bucks just by turning off the screensaver.”
You can also save energy by upgrading from an old-style glass CRT monitor to a flat panel LCD. Besides offering a crisp picture and taking up less space, a flat screen uses two-thirds less power than its bulkier predecessor. And because they are designed to maximize battery life, most laptops are typically 50 percent more efficient than a comparable desktop. And as always, look for the Energy Star label when buying home or office electronics.
In addition to NRDC, Microsoft worked with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other stakeholders on the new power saving measures.