Now that you own a computer, let us talk about the most important thing you can do to keep your energy use down: put it to sleep. Many people simply leave their computers on all day long, even when they will be out of the house for many hours. A turned on computer and monitor are always using roughly the same amount of power, whether they are in use or not. Make sure when you’re not using your computer to turn it off, or put it to sleep. You will not only make your machine last longer, you will also save a great deal of energy.

I would like to take a moment to talk about one of the great myths of energy savings: the screen saver. Do not fall for this ploy: your screen saver provides zero energy savings As long as your monitor is turned on it does not matter what is on the screen, it is drawing its full compliment of power. Do not use screen savers, they save you nothing. To get power savings from you monitor you must either set it to go to sleep, or turn it off entirely.

Finally, let’s discuss what you can do with your computer at the end of its life. Do not, under any circumstances, throw it away. Computers are built with hazardous materials and must be properly recycled. If you own an HP, Dell, or Toshiba computer they will all take them back and recycle them (Dell and Toshiba are free, HP charges about $25). Alternatively, if you want to recycle them locally, donate them to and they will turn your old computer into a new computer for a local school or other community organization. Your computer may be too slow for you but it can make a great word processing machine for a child somewhere in a Portland school.

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