The emerging threat of global warming has changed various aspects of our everyday lives -- from the world's political landscape to the way we view a light switch. However, when it comes to using our PCs, many of us ignore energy conservation for the sake of business or convenience. This is a mindset that we all need to break.
The flow of electricity is measured in watts. Your hard drive uses between 5 and 25 watts, your CPU between 20 and 45 watts, and your monitor from 80 to 150 watts. A well-equipped PC will therefore burn between 200 and 300 watts when running at full steam. Using these statistics, it has been estimated that the average computer will release around 615 kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions a year -- and that's just one PC. When you consider that many businesses leave their work stations powered at all hours, comprising of millions of machines around the globe, it's easy to see how computers are contributing to our planet's shaky future.
Windows Vista, Microsoft's new operating system, attempts to address these rising concerns with a new range of environmental-friendly features. At the forefront of these changes is 'Sleep' mode; a more energy-efficient version of Standby that requires just a few watts of electricity to run. To make the change as user-friendly as possible, Microsoft has implemented this mode as its default setting - all you need to do is install Windows Vista. (To activate manually, select Start, hit the blue arrow icon, and click on Sleep.)
In another bid to earn its greens, Vista automatically slows a computer's processor down when the machine is less active. Again, this power-saving feature is automatically set up during installation.
So what difference will these measures make to the overall environment? Although it might seem small on an individual basis, their accumulated effect across thousands of computers could be huge. Indeed, a recent independent study in the U.S has calculated that over three million tons of global warming pollution could be prevented through Vista's energy saving features - but only if the majority of computer users take advantage of them.
But it's not all about saving the world - Vista's ability to reduce energy consumption will also save you money on your electricity bill. Consider it your just reward for doing a noble deed.