Saving Energy on Computer and Office Equipment

Key Points 

  • Today’s computers are much more energy efficient than a decade ago, but only if they are configured to sleep when they are not in use.
  • Flat screen monitors use considerably less energy than cathode ray monitors.
  • Chargers that are left plugged in when not in use still draw current and waste energy.


According to the U.S. Department of Energy, energy use by computers and office equipment is one of the fastest-growing sources of electricity consumption in schools, businesses, and homes. Included in this category is a variety of electronic equipment:

  • Computers
  • Monitors
  • Printers
  • Facsimile machines
  • Copiers


Energy use by office equipment is expected to grow by as much as 500% in the next decade. Follow these tips to ensure your computers and related equipment are not using unnecessary power:

  • Turn off screen savers – Today’s screen savers actually waste power by keeping your computer active.
  • Turn off equipment when not in use – Contrary to popular belief, turning off older computers and printers will not wear them down quicker (as long as it is not to excess-more than 6x daily). Many people continue to leave their computers on all the time and that is a waste of energy.
  • Consider upgrades – If your budget allows, look into newer computer models. Flat screen monitors are quickly becoming the most energy-efficient part of the system. Although they may cost more, they will save you money (about 1/3 less energy consumed) and office space in the long term.
  • Share printers – By networking printers, an entire classroom or department can share one resource.
  • Configure your computer to “sleep mode” – ENERGY STAR® settings are being configured into more and more computer systems. For ideal savings, set your power management to turn off your monitor after 10 minutes and your hard disks after 20 minutes.
  • Donate older equipment – Many non-profits, schools, churches, and other charitable organizations are in need of computer and office equipment. Look in your local phone directory for resources or go online to find national recycling programs.
  • Consider laptops – Laptops typically use about 1/4 the electricity of older desktop models.
  • Unplug chargers – Laptop and other plug-in chargers continue to draw power even when they are not in use.