Software could save organizations $19,000 each month

Software designed by the University of Liverpool which automatically shuts down computer systems after usage, is saving large organisations up to £13,000 in electricity costs each month.

The team from Liverpool found that universities with PC centres in 24-hour libraries could be losing more than one million hours of unused computer power each month. Systems experts have developed new software called PowerDown, which works by automatically shutting computers down if left unused for half an hour.

Using the University of Liverpool as a test model the team discovered that 1,600 library-based PC’s alone were using 20,000 kW each week unnecessarily – equating to approximately £2,400 in current electricity prices. PowerDown has so far recovered 24 million hours of PC inactivity within the University.

Lisa Nelson, from the University’s Computing Services Department, who designed the software, said: “PowerDown is simple to install and staff can chose to opt out if, for example, they are running particular software on a machine overnight without a user being logged in. PowerDown is a simple design and has been developed with no cost to the institution.

“An average PC, left on for 24 hours a day but used for only 40 hours a week, uses around 17kW of electricity, of which 13kW is wasted. That figure does not take into consideration other costs such as in air-conditioned buildings, where additional cooling is required to remove the heat created by active computers.”

Then team has now received praise for its contributions to environmentally friendly IT in the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) report on IT Sustainability. PowerDown is now in use at several academic institutions across the world.

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