Summer Consumer Guide: Buying a new Computer

Thursday, July 23, 2009 |

By Ellen Jackowski
HP Environmental Sustainability

We all know about the importance of using the power management features on our computers to save energy, right? Simple actions like turning off your computer when you’re done working, ditching your screen saver and turning down the brightness on your monitor can help cut back on CO2 emissions and save you money on your electricity bill. In fact, enabling computer power management features like “sleep” mode can save nearly half a ton of CO2 and more than $60 per year in energy costs.

HP’s new Power to Change campaign encourages people to do just that – shut down their computers at the end of each work day – to help reduce CO2 emissions. HP estimates that if 100,000 people did this each day, the combined energy savings could total more than 2,680 kilowatt-hours and carbon emissions reductions could total more than 3,500 pounds per day. This is the equivalent of eliminating more than 105 cars from the road.
But using the computer you already have in a more energy-efficient way is just one part of the process. What about choosing the machine in the first place? How can you ensure that the product you purchase is a good choice for you, your wallet and the environment?

There are number of specific things to consider:
  1. Is the product ENERGY STAR qualified?
    Make sure the answer is yes. ENERGY STAR-compliant computers use 15-25% less energy on average than non-compliant computers. The new ENERGY STAR 5.0 qualification just went into effect on July 1. To meet this new standard, computers need to have an 85% minimum efficiency at 50% of rated output and 82% minimum efficiency at 20% and 100% of rated output. Products that fit this strict new standard not only consume less energy themselves, they also generate less heat, which cuts back on power needed to keep the machine cool. In fact, an ENERGY STAR-rated PC and monitor with power management tools enabled can save up to $75 in energy costs in one year.


  2. Is the product EPEAT registered? If so, at what level?
    EPEAT is a system to help purchasers evaluate, compare and select electronic products based on their environmental attributes. Computers are rated Gold, Silver or Bronze depending on the number of 51 environmental criteria they meet pertaining to energy conservation, end-of-life management, product longevity, packaging, corporate performance and the reduction and elimination of sensitive materials. An EPEAT Bronze-rated product meets the 23 baseline criteria, while an EPEAT Gold-rated product meets the 23 baseline criteria plus 75% of the remaining 28 optional criteria. Silver-rated products meet the required criteria plus 50% of the optional ones.


  3. Check your Display
    If you are buying a notebook, get one with a light-emitting diode (LED) display. LED displays are lighter than cold cathode fluorescent lamp (CCFL) technology and they are recyclable, mercury-free and provide significant energy savings.

    If you are buying a new desktop, consider replacing your old CRT monitor with an energy-efficient LCD flat panel monitor. LCD monitors provide up to 70% power savings and up to twice the lifespan of conventional CRT monitors. LCD monitors also run cooler, which helps save on air conditioning costs.


  4. What about Recycling?
    Does your product contain recyclable materials? What about the packaging? There are lots of computers on the market that make use of recycled materials in both the machine itself and the packaging without sacrificing quality or price. All HP Business Notebook PCs, for example, are more than 90% recyclable or recoverable (by weight), and many HP computers use 100% recyclable packaging.


In the midst of all these environmental considerations for your new computer, don’t forget to dispose of your old machine responsibly. There are a number of options you can take advantage of, including donation, trade-in, return-for-cash and recycling, to ensure that your old computer doesn’t end up in a landfill.

Find out about HP’s product end of life options.

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