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Watch out! The meter is running.

  TOPCAT® 00:43 17 Sep 2004

As consumer energy prices escalate once again and higher electricity bills drop on the mat, I am rather interested to know how many of you will continue to leave your computers on all the time. It certainly looks as though the days of cheaper energy are beginning to draw to a close as, or so we're told, the North Sea oil bonanza is soon to end. Personally though, I think there are more reserves around our shores which the oil companies are sitting on until the price is right for them. Especially after the round Britain drilling survey carried out a few years ago. Rumours abounded then. But that's a different story.

As you well know, most if not all PCs and their displays can be configured to power down when idle and be powered up again by a simple keystroke or mouse movement, but I suspect many users hardly use this option. I am one of them but adopt a different strategy in that I fire up my PC, use it and then shut it down afterwards. It is never left running when I'm not sat in front of it. There is a train of thought that says one does eventual harm to the PC components by doing this, but I like to think I am saving some energy and a little something off the old bills as well!

This computer energy consumption problem is not sitting still either. With each increase in processor speed its power consumption rises too. Same is true of the latest graphics cards - ATI and nVidia's top end cards now use around 110 watts of power, and I wonder just where the limit is. Power equals heat, so to dissipate this extra case fans are usually needed with a further slight rise in energy usage. At least, the increasing use of flat panel displays over the ubiquitous CRT monitor is lowering power consumption by an acceptable amount - less than half that of the average monitor I believe.

So there you have it. It is rather sobering to have read that if 50 million PCs (in the USA) were left on all day their power consumption would be the equivalent of the total output of three large power stations!! It will be interesting to read your comments and please feel free to correct me on any inaccuracies in the above. :-) Happy computing! TC.

  kev.Ifty 01:31 17 Sep 2004

I have neither the knowledge or experience to correct you but what about my fridge and aquarium should i consider switching them off so that them Yankees can file share? :-)

I leave my PC on mainly because i read on here it was better for your computer to do so....

I await (as you do) other opinions.

Cheers Kev

  TOPCAT® 14:37 17 Sep 2004

I was aiming this solely at computer energy use and how it affects certain individuals. It is very true that many electronic devices in our homes consume possibly more on standby when everything is added together.

gudgulf states he leaves his PC on for virus scans and such overnight. I always believed it possible to leave it on standby in the first instance and, having set Task Manager correctly, the machine would power up at the given times, run the authorised checks and then drop to standby again when all is done. Never tried it myself so forgive me if I am wrong on this.

I still await confirmation that continually powering off a computer after use eventually does it harm. Mine is six years old now, regularly used and with just one hard drive failure in all that time. Lucky or not?

I like the comment from Sir Radfordin regarding the extra ten minutes in bed. Thankfully?, my long working days are at an end - "Says who?," I hear from the wife! :-) TC.

  TOPCAT® 16:03 17 Sep 2004


Seems I am doing right after all! TC.


Many people, including IT personnel, believe that switching off PCs and other equipment during the day and at night causes damage to internal components. It is thought that the change in temperature resulting from turning equipment on and off harms the circuitry. Modern electronic equipment is specifically designed to minimise these effects and the reduced running time resulting from power-saving features can actually increase the life expectancy of equipment....'

click here

  oresome 19:33 17 Sep 2004

It's the case that a failing component will most likely give up altogether at switch on. Various parts of the ciruitry will become dicharged whilst the computer is switched off and there will be an increased current flow at the moment of switch on whilst these components charge. The same happens with drive motors whilst a magnetic field develops. This momentary increased current can tip the balance on a failing component.

Temperature variations also create stresses as stated in the previous contribution.

The "myth" was certainly fact with valve equipment. The valve heaters had a relatively low resistance when cold, causing a large inrush current at switch on which could cause a heater filament to blow. Designers compensated for this with a resistor with a temperature coefficient opposite to that of the valve heaters placed in the circuit. This would only be effective however if the equipment was not switched off and on again within a short period of time as the resistor needed time to cool down.

Back to the original thread, we owe it to future generations to conserve energy where we can. We have been on this planet for thousands of years and have exhausted most of the energy reserves in the last two hundred years.

  S5W 19:19 20 Sep 2004

Surely the answer to the original thread is that any electrical equipment, when activated uses energy, by switching it off that amount of power is 'saved' or not used; simple really. When the oil,gas and coal are finally depleted we shall all have to rely on uranium and plutonium for our energy, with a bit of wind/tide/sun. If the human race lasts long enough we might crack the fusion conundrum; then cornucopia: perhaps.

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