Saving money by saving power – an action plan

Last week I spoke to a group of schools about money saving strategies (based on this info), and I do plan to shortly record the whole presentation, so that I can share it. But when I got to the bit about making sure that you do something about desktop power savings, there were a few in the audience who were against the idea. Things like "Well, we tried it, and the head made us abandon it", and "I know it will save money, but the teachers found ways to get around it".

But there's a four figure saving possible, every year - so perhaps I can share some advice as Four Steps to Save Your School £10,000:

  1. Go down to your local DIY shop and buy a power monitor plug. They cost a tenner, and they'll let you monitor all kinds of devices.
  2. Plug it into one of your classroom computers for a week, so that it can tell you how much it costs per week/day/hour.
  3. Walk around the school at 5 o'clock and count the number of unused computers that are switched on.
  4. Work out what it's costing your school per year for unused computers left switched on
  5. Go and see the head teacher with your back-of-the-envelope stats

Although there are lots of other case studies, you may be interested to read how we've rolled out power saving settings within Microsoft (and if you think your teachers are hard to please with technology, imagine what it's like providing IT services for 100,000+ IT geeks).

Our IT team at Microsoft have recently implemented a worldwide power management strategy across 165,000 desktop and laptop computers used within our business right around the world, to contribute to our goal of reducing our carbon emissions by 30% over five years.

The benefits that they've calculated are:

  • 27% drop in power used by managed desktop computers
  • 12.33 kilowatt hours saving per desktop per month
  • £8 to £9 saving per desktop computer per year

imageIn the case study, the framework of power settings are discussed, along with the practical implications and the lessons learnt. For example, the first method used was a simple policy setting on setting up a new user/computer, but they found that 80% of users simply permanently overrode the setting within 30 days. The second method was to have an extended 60-minute time-to-sleep setting, which would be refreshed regularly, so that even if the user changed it temporarily (eg to stay on for a presentation) it would reset again later.

The team relied very heavily on System Center Configuration Manager, which meant that they could apply policies and measure the impact of them over time. The chart on Power Environmental Impact is one of the examples from the pilot. Having data displayed in this way allows you to demonstrate the savings impact to your senior management team, and calculate reduction in your carbon footprint or energy bills.
In your school, you may not need to use System Center - you can make a start simply for free by changing some of the default power settings when you deploy new computers . But if you've got hundreds of computers, it might be worth starting to calculate just how much money you might save with a much more comprehensive power management strategy.

Learn MoreRead the full Microsoft IT case study on power savings with Windows


More ICT Money Saving TipsYou may also find the main Top ICT Money Saving Tips article useful, to learn more about ways that ICT can help save money in school budgets

Or find all related articles on this blog

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