PC energy waste during the Christmas season

16 Dec 2010

Leaving your computer on has almost 200 times more impact than keeping 100 fairy lights lit over Christmas, an AlertMe study suggests.

AlertMe, the consumer home energy management firm, has carried out a live study of the energy use in an average small business in the UK. Its main finding is that not switching off office computers and monitors could generate 8,793 tonnes of CO2 over the Christmas holidays in the UK.

An office with 50 staff was monitored by AlertMe over two weekends to model the use (and waste) of energy when staff are at home over the Christmas season.

Based on the ‘live’ monitoring, AlertMe found that:

  • If just one person in the office leaves their desktop PC and monitor on standby for 10 days during the Christmas period, they will stand to emit 4kg of CO2. This is 200 times more CO2 than 100 Christmas fairy lights.
  • Scaling this up across 2.1 million small businesses in the UK, if just one computer and monitor is left on for the 10 days, this equates to 8,973 tonnes of CO2.
  • The impact could be even greater if 10 people out of an office of 50 leave their PC and monitors on standby, together with standard office equipment, such as printers, scanners, fax machines and photocopiers, over the same period. They are predicted to emit 331kg of carbon dioxide per office, which is 695,000 tonnes across the whole of the UK. 

CO2 emissions and the bottom line

As well as contributing to global warming, AlertMe’s model predicts that businesses could lose £41.31m in wasted energy over Christmas if office equipment is left on during the holiday.

A full breakdown of costs and carbon consumption is detailed in this table:

Carbon consumption in UK businesses - AlertMe research

Carbon consumption estimated using calculator provided by nef.org.uk

According to AlertMe: “Consumers are starting to take steps to control the way they consume energy in the home and we urge them to do the same in the workplace. It’s all too easy to leave your workstation on standby without even thinking and this will have even more impact if you are away from the office for the full 10 days over the holiday.”

Founded in Cambridge UK in 2006, AlertMe provides home energy management systems to consumers both directly and indirectly through their energy provider, enabling them to manage and reduce consumption, save money and reduce their carbon footprint.

The company is private and venture backed by Good Energies, Index Ventures, SET Venture Partners and VantagePoint Venture Partners. As reported on Siliconrepublic yesterday, VantagePoint is reportedly raising a US$1.5bn fund to invest in future clean-energy start-ups.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic