To shutdown or not to shutdown – that is the question

Like everything else, school supplies have evolved over the years. Slate and chalk where made obsolete by coil notebooks and led pencils and today desks are increasingly covered not with paper but with computers and laptops.

So when thinking in terms of energy savings, examining the screen in front of you may be the best place to start.

If you haven’t hit a key or been downloading off the net, chances are your screen automatically switches to an image of outer space – signaling your screensaver has kicked in. What many people fail to realize, however, is that a screensaver does not necessarily equate to ‘sleep mode’, an energy-saving setting that essentially shuts down you computer without having to reload all your open programs when you restart. (The screensaver just changes the graphics on your screen to keep certain icons from being burned into it – it saves the screen, not power.)


So to save energy, set your computer to ‘hibernate’ when not in use. If you are a PC user, you can access your power management setting through your control panel. On a Mac, clicking on the energy saving icon (the light bulb) once in your system preference, off the apple menu, will allow you to set sleep times.

Optimal settings

Now the obvious question becomes, what are the optimal settings?

Set your computer to ‘sleep’ after 20 to 30 minutes of inactivity, but if you plan to be away from your desk for more than an hour – shut it down all together. It is still using energy when on or in sleep mode and while rebooting does take an initial jolt more of energy, after a hour, it pays to shut ‘er down. What to do overnight then becomes a no brainer:

Away for more than an hour. Shutdown to save power.