Most organizations see IT as a necessary expense. After all, it is a rare month when we aren’t needing a new tool, hardware, or service. Reducing power consumption is one way that IT can generate some serious savings! How much? We reduced power by just 30% and saved $65,000 per year! So if you have been looking for a way to get a raise (or to hire an extra person or two), read on!
What is Your Current Usage?
If you plan on highlighting how much money IT saves the company, you need a rough baseline to start with. To do that, you will need to know three things:
- How much power is being used?
- How much does that power cost?
- How long is the device used for?
Before you get started, you will need a list of your major computer models and how many you have of each type. If you don’t have an accurate inventory, you can use Active Directory to generate a list for you. Now we need to find out how much power is being used by each model. No need to bust out the Kill-A-Watt to see power usage. You can easily find the average power usage for any computer model that you have. For starters, check out this Power Usage chart.
Next, you will need to get an accurate cost of electricity. In the picture below, I used a rounded estimate of $0.11 per kWh. Finally, you will need to estimate how long the devices are used for. Before implementing a power policy in our environment, it was common for computers to run 24/7 during work weeks. Some devices would be shutdown for breaks and weekends though.
Just plug your numbers into the spread sheet below to see the cost per PC and the yearly cost for those models. Your total cost is calculated at the top. If needed, you can change the cost of electricity.
Spreadsheet Download: How Much Money Can I Save
Creating Your Power Policy
Group Policy makes configuring a custom power policy very simple. Like most settings, you can configure the power policy with Administrative Templates or Preferences. Unless you have a specific need (or have serious control issues), I would recommend using Group Policy Preferences to configure the power settings. By using Group Policy Preferences, you can configure default power settings but still let your users change specific values to fit their working schedules.
Create a new GPO named Default Power Options and Settings. This GPO will be scoped to Authenticate Users. Create a Security Group named Exclusion: Default Power Options and Settings. Deny this group the “Apply Group Policy” permission to your GPO. You will probably have users complain about how their computers shutdown, by adding their computers to this group – they will be excluded from any settings (thus letting them complain about something else). If you have any issues with these settings, check out item 4 on this list.
In your GPO, navigate to Computer Configuration/Preferences/Control Panel Settings/Power Options. Right click to create a new Power Policy. For simplicity, we will create a Vista+ Power Plan. If you still have XP machines, you will need to create a second XP Power Policy within this same GPO.
This preference behaves almost identically to the Internet Options preference. You can use the F5, F6, F7, and F8 keys to enable or disable different options. For safety, disable all options (F8) and then selectively enable settings that you wish to change. Select the specific setting and press F6 to enable it.
Enabling Dynamic Shutdowns
Most company power plans fail because of inflexible settings. Prime example: setting a mandatory shutdown time for all computers. Instead of doing this, take advantage of dynamic shutdown times by enabling hibernation! With hibernation, computers will shutdown after a period of idleness instead of at set times.
Let’s say that you set your machines to hibernate after 2 hours of idleness. If a particular user has to leave work at 2:00 PM, his computer will shutdown automatically at 4:00 PM. If your users normally work until 5, their machines will shutdown by 7. For your reference, idleness is defined as no keyboard/mouse input and no full screen application running (such as a movie/PowerPoint).
In our environment, desktops are set to hibernate after 3 hours of non use. This 3 hours is the maximum amount of time between blocks of classes + teacher lunch breaks.
1. To stop your users from bending over and actually having to power on their computers in the morning, enable automatic startup in the BIOS.
2. Beginning in Windows Vista, Group Policy automatically refreshes when a machine comes out of a hibernate. However, certain CSEs (like Software Installation) can only occur on a reboot. Because of this, we create a weekly scheduled task that automatically reboots the machines. If you start having this issue, just create a scheduled task that runs shutdown.exe -r -f -t 0. Set the task to run super early in the morning and allow it to wake the machine.
3. If certain users start to complain, inform them that they can contact HR and fill out form ID-10-T. Be sure to let them know that this form authorizes a monthly deduction equal to the cost of their energy usage multiplied by the amount of time that they waste.
Now that I look at our power policy, I see some settings that can be tightened up for even more savings! Do you already have a power policy? If so, how did you implement it and did you highlight your savings? If you don’t have a power policy, what is stopping you from getting that raise? 🙂