LONDON, — Nearly half of all corporate PCs in the US are not regularly switched off at night, costing US businesses $1.72 billion in energy and causing emissions of 14.4 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, according to recently released PC Energy Awareness report.

The report combines statistics on energy usage and CO2 emissions, alongside research on behavior in the American workplace, such as whether employees are turning their PCs off at the end of the day.

1E, a provider of power management software, and the Alliance to Save Energy, a coalition of businesses, government, environmental, and consumer leaders, commissioned the survey with market research firm Harris Interactive, to examine PC power usage in the American workplace.

The data show that American businesses are wasting energy while we sleep. A mid-sized company, which includes about 10,000 PCs, wastes more than $165,000 a year in electricity costs for computers left on overnight. In addition, by turning these computers off, an employer can keep more than 1,381 tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere.

Preventing that amount of CO2 from reaching the atmosphere would have roughly the same impact as taking 2.58 million passenger cars entirely off the road -- more cars than exist in the entire state of Maryland.

"Few problems match an impact so large with a solution so simple," said Sumir Karayi, chief executive officer, 1E. "A computer uses energy even when it appears to be idle. Reducing that waste can help US businesses reduce costs and prevent tons of damaging greenhouse gases from being emitted into our atmosphere."

Karayi also added that it is evident from the findings of the report that worker apathy and insufficient business systems are part of the cause for wasting a tremendous amount of energy. Power savings of significant value can be achieved only when all the stakeholders involved are satisfied, namely PC users themselves, IT departments -- who need to keep computers up-to-date -- and finally those tasked with managing their organizations' Corporate Social Responsibility credentials.

"Ideally, everyone would shut down their PCs at the end of the working day, but the research released shows that this just doesn't happen," he stated.

According to the report, some people assume their IT departments need their machines to be left on overnight in order to deploy security patches and software updates. Others believe an on-board "sleep" or hibernation mode kicks in -- which isn't usually the case. And, an alarming number of respondents admitted that they just don't care.

The study showed that:

  • Energy costs -- typically 10 percent of the corporate technology budget -- could rise to as much as 50 percent in the next few years.

  • Power management software can reduce a PC's power consumption by 80 percent, allowing companies to save $25 to $75 per desktop PC. Beyond automated shut-down, power savings are derived during the day by automating monitor shut-off after a period of inactivity.