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PC Power Management Tools Reduce Energy Use by 45%

More than 100 million corporate and government PCs are left “powered on” 94 percent of the time, and in most cases, well beyond actual user demand for PC on-time, according to a study released by Verdiem.

The study, commissioned by one of the nation’s largest utilities and conducted by QDI Strategies, also reveals that a centralized PC power management solution reduced PC energy consumption by 45 percent.

The study, “Greening IT From the Top Down” (PDF), provides the first large-scale audit conducted by software agents running on desktop and laptop PCs, tracking PC use second-by-second on 110,000 PCs and logging 64.5 million CPU hours of data, according to Verdiem.

“This study also clearly underscores a point that Verdiem customers have come to appreciate; a PC power management solution reduces PC energy costs by 30 to 60 percent and provides a return on investment within six to twelve months,” says Brett Goodwin, vice president of marketing, Verdiem, in a statement.

Baseline audits of PC power states revealed that desktop PCs are “on” 94 percent of the time overall, peaking at 96.8 percent of time during a typical workday (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.). PC “on” times for after-hours on work days (5 p.m. to 8 a.m.) and weekends/holidays were on 93.5 percent and 93.1 percent of the time, respectively.

Laptops are inherently more efficient than desktop PCs, yet still powered on 60 percent of the time overall, says Verdiem. “On” times peaked at 74.1 percent during an average work day, compared to 56.4 percent of time after-hours, and 51.1 percent of time during weekends/ holidays.

The study also finds that energy savings from powering down PCs at night and on weekends and holidays are substantial for both desktop and laptop PCs, on top of a 10 to 20 point drop during workdays, when high availability is required for worker productivity.

Researchers say reducing PC “on” times during workdays is of special interest to public utilities developing incentive programs to reduce energy use during peak load hours.

According to estimates, only 20 percent of the firms surveyed have IT systems management suites that include power management or stand-alone power management solutions, which researchers say suggest substantial opportunities for expansion in distributed IT environments.

Researchers conclude that the most effective tool for reducing the power use of PCs is to ensure that they are not running when they are not in use, along with putting groups of machines into lower power modes when idle for specified periods of time.

The report finds that at 10.36 cents per kilowatt-hour (retail cost in 2008 for commercial customers), automated, centralized PC power management tools can save an organization with 1000 desktop PCs nearly $24,000 annually, not including additional savings from powering down monitors.

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