In the face of rising energy costs, businesses are looking for ways to
reduce their energy use. Although there are a lot of good ideas out
there, there are also a lot of misconceptions about what are effective
energy-efficiency measures. Here are some of the most common
myths and the facts to set you on the right path.
Myth. Screen savers reduce energy use.
Facts. Screen savers don’t cut energy use. Screen savers were
developed to mitigate a problem called “screen burn-in” that can
occur in both cathode ray tube (CRT) and liquid crystal display
(LCD) computer monitors and TV screens. Burn-in occurs
when a given image, such as a logo or a menu bar for a computer
program, appears on a monitor for a long period of time. The
mechanics are different for CRT and LCD displays, but the
result is essentially the same—over time, these long-duration
images can get “burned” into the screen so that the viewer sees
a “ghost” of these images even when they’re not supposed to be
there. By using a screen saver, you prevent any specific images
from being displayed in the same location when your computer
is dormant for a long period of time, thus preventing burn-in.
But it takes just as much energy to display a screen saver on your
screen as it does to display any other program. To save energy,
adjust your computer’s power management settings to automatically
shut the monitor down after a specified period of idle
time, and simply turn off the monitor if you are not going to be
using it for 15 minutes or more.
Myth. Computers, monitors, and other office equipment will
use less energy and last longer if they’re left running all the time.
Facts. Turning equipment off overnight does not shorten its
life, and the small surge of power that occurs when some
devices are turned on is much smaller than the energy used by
running equipment when it’s not needed. In fact, leaving computers
and other office equipment on overnight and on
weekends wastes significant amounts of energy and also adds to
the wear and tear on the equipment. In general, turn off equipment
you are not using or make sure that energy-saving features
on networks or individual machines are enabled. Some office
equipment, including printers and scanners, features small
transformers that use energy even when the equipment is
turned off. Plug all such devices into a power strip so that they
can be shut down completely with one flick of the switch.
Myth. Surge protectors reduce energy use.
Facts. A small number of transient-voltage surge suppressor
(a.k.a. surge protector) manufacturers and vendors persist in
making energy-saving claims for their products despite the fact
that such claims were thoroughly debunked decades ago. Even
if there were some mechanism by which surge protectors could
save energy (and there isn’t), the reality is that there is simply no
opportunity for these devices to do so because they are dormant
well over 99.999 percent of the time. They become active only
when some event (which may be on the customer or the utility
side of the meter) creates a very high voltage spike. Even in a
“noisy” (in an electrical sense) industrial environment in which
such spikes are relatively frequent, their duration is so short—
measured in millionths of a second—that when added together,
they occupy a minuscule percentage of plant operating time.
Surge protectors are an effective way of protecting your electrical
equipment against voltage spikes, but don’t buy one to cut
energy costs, because it won’t.