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Tips and Tricks




Reduce, Reuse, Recycle -
Keeping It

Have you ever wondered how we are impacting the environment through our growing reliance on technology? Personal computers in our homes have added to our daily personal consumption of paper, electricity and chemicals.  Here are some tips for reducing technology’s contribution to global warming, or maybe just reducing your power bill. 

Reduce ..

your power consumption:  Whilst your power bill shows the impact of your  technology on your wallet, what you can’t see is the environmental impact of producing that power. 

Goodbye, screen saver:  Screen savers were designed as a moving image to prevent a still picture from being ‘burnt into’ a monitor, after being displayed for too long.  Instead, consider setting your computer to turn off your monitor after a period of inactivity.

Standby modes:  Most commonly found in printers, some technology components can be set to ‘sleep’ or ‘standby’ when they are not actively being used, using less power. 

Power off:  Standby modes still consume power however, so physically turn your technology off at the wall at night when you leave the office, if possible. 

If your computers run processes like backups after you’ve left, schedule them to shut down automatically later in the evening. 

Consider setting up your power boards so devices that can be powered off overnight are on one circuit.  

Note:  Some computer monitoring and updating processes require your computers to be on at all times.  You can turn off the monitor screens, but check with your local Computer Troubleshooter about shutting down your PCs at night.

Energy efficient devices:  When purchasing technology, check out the device’s power consumption ratings and power saving modes.

If available, choose a device with an ‘Energy Star’ label.  This was introduced in the USA to show consumers that an appliance had met certain energy efficiency standards, and has been licensed for use in other countries including Japan, Australia and the European Union.

LCD monitors have been shown to require approximately half the power of traditional old CRT style monitors.  Now you have a great reason to upgrade to a ‘flat’ screen, apart from the fact that they look great.

… your travel:  Transportation continues to be a major contributor to carbon emissions around the world.  Fortunately, technology now allows you to share files with remote locations and even use audio and video across internet links.  Consider if you can work remotely or participate in a computer-based video conference, rather than booking that plane ticket.

… your paper consumption:  Is the ‘paperless’ office really possible?  How many documents appear on your computer screen via email, only to be printed out?

Consider generating electronic invoices and emailing them to your customers.

Use a printer with a double-sided (or ‘duplex') feature, to halve your paper consumption by printing on both sides of the sheet.

Use the ‘editing’ or ‘mark-up’ functions in your word processor to highlight and comment within documents on your screen and then email them back to the writer.

Train yourself to read as much as possible on your computer screen.  Our natural inclination is to print a large document to read it, as we are used to a paper-based world.

Re-use ..

your current technology:  If your computer has slowed down, think about your options before you throw it out the door and rush to by a new one. 

Off to the mechanic:  A software ‘tune-up’ may help to improve your computer’s performance.  Your local Computer Troubleshooter can remove unnecessary temporary files and fine tune settings to help your computer run more efficiently. 

Bits and pieces:  You may be able to upgrade some of the individual components inside your computer, instead of needing to purchase a new, complete system.  Extra memory (RAM) or a faster processor may make a significant difference and be cheaper on your wallet.

Software versus hardware:  Software like Microsoft’s “Terminal Services” may allow you to run newer, more intense software programs on older computers, without needing to upgrade them.  There are some considerations to this (for example, you will need a Server computer) but it could be worthwhile if you have a significant number of older desktop computers.

One person’s trash:  Who else can use your old technology?  If you have to replace your hardware to keep up with the latest version of your business software, it might be perfectly suitable for a student who wants to write documents and browse the internet.  See if there are any groups in your area who clean up old computers and redistribute them to people who need them.

… your paper:  How many more uses can you find for your waste paper before it ends up in a rubbish bin?

Pack it up:  Shredded paper makes great packing material for items being posted or transported in an office move or house move.

Furry friends:  Local pet shops can’t get enough shredded paper to ensure a nice, clean stay for their animals.

Note the other side:  If your printer can only print on one side, use the reverse, blank side of any unneeded documents to write your grocery list or provide drawing paper for your children.  Cut a sheet up into 4 smaller squares and keep by your telephone for writing down any messages.  

Recycle ..

your waste paper: It is good business practice to shred any printed documents containing sensitive information (customer details, financial projections etc).  But what happens to your shredded paper?  Many companies now offer recycling services for paper and cardboard, if it’s not already part of your standard local waste collection. 

old computer hardware:  Don't just discard your old computer monitors and other equipment in the trash. Not only is it bad for the environment, it's also illegal as many of these components contain hazardous material.   In North County San Diego, EDCO providers an equipment recycling dropoff location in San Marcos.

ink and toner cartridges:.  These components can leak dangerous chemicals and should be disposed of safely.  Many recycling programs can separate the inks and plastics, sending the plastics on to be used in objects like road barriers and park benches.

Contact us about how we can put these and other tips into action for you.


The information presented in Dave's Tricks & Tips is provided "as-is", and is not intended as a substitute for the hands-on services of Computer Problem Solvers.
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