Purchasing Energy Efficient Computer Equipment

Last Updated: 01/06/2014

CU-Boulder Guidelines for Buying Energy Efficient Computer Equipment.

Below are CU-Boulder approved directions for specifying “energy smart” energy efficiency options on desktops, laptops and monitors. These fall into three categories:

  1. Efficient hardware
  2. Power management pre-sets
  3. Monitor type

Buying Energy Efficient Hardware

When purchasing computer equipment, choose products and models that are more energy efficient. Most major manufacturers, including Dell, Apple, and HP offer energy efficient equipment and energy efficient versions of most models.

The most efficient hardware is certified by Energy-Star, the federal standard for highest energy efficiency. Energy Star-certified products include desktops, laptops, monitors, servers and workstations. When selecting equipment look for the Energy Star logo and Energy Star 4.0 certified systems.

The Energy Star website lets you search Energy Star certified models from a range of manufacturers. Go to http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=products.pr_find_es_products and click on the links under the Computers & Electronics section for your specific needs.

Most manufacturers also highlight or identify their Energy Star or energy efficient models on their purchasing websites.

Energy Star Logo

Buying Equipment with Power Management Options Enabled

Even if a model is Energy Star certified, some energy-saving or “power management” options may not be enabled unless you specifically request them to be when ordering the system. Power management options are those associated with equipment being in “sleep” or “standby” mode.

The energy power management pre-set option may cost a few dollars more, but it pays itself off in energy savings in a few months.

Buying Energy Efficient Monitors

Click here to check out Energy Star's Buying Guide. 

Tips - How to Save Energy with Your New Computer Monitor

  1. Activate the sleep settings on your monitor. You can set your monitor to first dim and then enter a low power sleep mode when the computer is inactive. Please see www.energystar.gov/sleepinstructions.
  2. Do not use screen savers. Screen savers generally do not save energy and may actually prevent a computer from entering sleep mode. Screen savers were originally developed to prevent the permanent etching of patterns on older monochrome monitors. Modern display screens do not suffer as much from this problem, but screen savers are still used for entertainment. If you want to use your screen saver in conjunction with monitor power management, set the screen saver "wait time" to less than the period of time after which the monitor enters sleep mode. If your screen saver appears but your monitor never enters sleep mode, your screen saver may be the culprit: try disabling it.