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Energy Saving Case Studies

How PACT IT Solutions saved energy in the office with EcoSwitch

PACT IT Solutions is an IT service provider for Small to Medium Business clients. Using an EcoSwitch to switch off standby power, around $220 worth of wasted electricity was saved per workstation system per year – a return on investment of about 1 month. Summary of energy savings:

Workstations

  • Wasted cost in electricity for one year for each workstation system (that was running 24×7 when it didn’t need to be) was around $220 (using one EcoSwitch per workstation to eliminate this waste infers a ROI of about 1 month)
  • Standby power measured alone is around $22 per year per workstation (using one EcoSwitch per workstation to eliminate only this waste infers a ROI of about 7 months)
  • Other benefits of the equipment being powered off at the EcoSwitch out of business hours:
  • - less heat is in the building (lowering cooling costs in summer)
  • - less chance of a fire due to an electrical fault in the equipment
  • - lower maintenance cost on the equipment due to fans not wearing out as fast


Servers

  • Consolidating our server racks had already saved us around $500 per year in electricity


Printers

  • New colour laser printers (standby power measured alone): saved a minimum of $28 per year each (infers a ROI of about 5 months)
  • Older mono laser printer (standby power measured alone): saved a minimum of $44 per year each (infers a ROI of about 3.5 months)

 
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Background Details

PACT IT Solutions is an IT service provider for Small to Medium Business clients. We use various workstations, servers, laptops and printers. We were about to move offices, so I figured this would be a good opportunity to quantify the energy usage and implement some changes in our work practices to minimise our energy consumption…

Workstations:

Of the nine workstations I observed that usually five of them were left running 24 hours a day – some were used remotely and others only used at the office. All of these workstations are of the same type and age, so I measured the power usage of one of them and found that the system (when the screen was in power-save mode – as per what would be the usual case out of business hours) was using just over 100 watts for the one workstation.

The next thought was how to quantify the expected power usage of non-business hours; this is how I came up with the number of hours in a year I expect the equipment to be operating when it did not need to be. Of the 52 weeks of the year, there is 4 weeks annual leave and approx. 2 weeks of public holidays, this leaves around 46 weeks of work (as a maximum). Assuming 9 hours from the power on at the start of the day to shutdown (allowing for lunch etc) to approximate a working day, this yields 45 hours a week. So the business use for the year is then 46 wks by 45 hours – 2070 hours (23.7% of the year).

A year has 8736 hours (52 wks by 7 days/wk by 24 hrs/day), this means there is 6666 hrs or 76.3% of the year (8736 hrs minus 2070 hrs) that the system was running when no one was at work!

The additional electricity consumed (based on measured 100w power draw across the 6666hrs) is 666.6kwh.  Using an electricity cost of $0.33 per kwh, the additional (and unnecessary) cost of this one computer is $219.98 per year.

The wasted cost in electricity for one year for five workstations systems is around $1100!

For any of the systems that were used remotely, I worked with the end user to find out what it was used for and arranged for them to able to have this functionality via one of our remote access servers rather than rely on their specific workstation. As the server was running anyway, this added no significant electricity usage to the server system itself.

The standby power was measured to be around 10watts for the entire computer system (including all peripherals – excluding printers) – this did vary between systems depending on the number of actual peripherals each system had.

An EcoSwitch was installed on each workstation, so that the standby power would also be eliminated – this saved the $22 per year standby power consumption.

For convenience the computer was configured to power on as soon as the EcoSwitch was turned on – this means the operator did no longer need to turn on many separate devices!

There are other benefits of the equipment being powered off at the EcoSwitch out of business hours – less heat is in the building (lowering cooling costs in summer), less chance of a fire due to an electrical fault in the equipment and a lower maintenance cost on the equipment due to fans not wearing out as fast.

Servers:

We had already completed a server consolidation process which reduced the server rack down to three physical servers – two represent a single server each and the other is a host for many virtual servers. Using this strategy, we don’t have more physical servers running than we need to.

The power consumption of the entire server rack is now 700watts – this rack alone represents an annual cost of $2018 in electricity!

The previous server configuration energy consumption was not measured, but it is estimated to have been approximated 150-200 watts more than it is now.

Laptops:

No change in usage was needed for these as they were not usually left running when not needed and were normally packed in their bag when not in use – hence there was no standby power consumption.

Printers:

All of the printers have a ready mode and a power-save/standby mode. The newer colour laser printers have around a 17 watt ready mode usage and around a 13 watt power-save/standby usage. An EcoSwitch was installed on each of these printers and this has saved a minimum of $28 per year (per printer) in standby power use – and the printer is now generally turned on only when it is actually needed.

The older mono laser printer has a 20.1 watt ready mode usage and a 20.0 watt power-save/standby mode usage (it seems the only power saving is the back light on the display going off – an almost irrelevant power saving that actually is!). An EcoSwitch was installed on this printer and this has saved a minimum of $44 per year in standby power use – and the printer is now generally turned on only when it is actually needed.

John Zeppel 14/10/2012