What if you could take steps to help the environment and at the same time cut the IT costs for your business? You would want to know about it right?
If we are honest, the word “meeting” often comes with a tinge of apprehension. This is especially true if you have a busy day ahead of you and you have to allow extra time for travel. And even if they are held in-house, the most productive meetings still come with the cost of wasted time related to pulling people away from their desks.
With the power of video conferencing technology, you can conduct virtual meetings with ease. In addition to being able to conduct a face-to-face meeting with everyone in the comfort of their own offices, there are services which also allow interactive meetings, web casts, presentations, on-screen computer tasks.
Need to get a large document to a client for review? Send it to him via the cloud, not bike messenger! Cloud storage is a service that allows data to be maintained, managed, backed up remotely, and accessed from multiple distributed and connected resources that comprise a Cloud. Not only is this good for the environment, but there are many companies that offer premium file sharing services for FREE.
Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is an evaluation of how much you will spend on a product (or service) over the lifetime of ownership. This is important because at first glance, a “greener” item may have a higher initial price tag. But when you conduct a TCO analysis, you may be surprised to discover that green options will usually save you money in the long term.
According to Pat Tiernan, executive director of the Climate Savers Computing Initiative, computers today are 40 to 50% more energy efficient than machines that are just a few years old. “About half of the energy older equipment sucks out of the socket is just wasted as heat.” Tiernan recommends purchasing computers that have an Energy Star rateing of at least 85% efficiency.
Another suggestion that Tiernan makes is to go for laptops with low voltage processors instead of desktops computer whenever possible. Not only does it take less “physical resources” to make them, but because of their inherent mobility, they are “designed from soup to nuts for power efficiency.”
Depending upon the needs of your office, you may also be able to literally trade out expensive equipment such as fax machines for a virtual solution.
By default, most computer monitors are on the brightest setting which uses about twice as much energy as the dimmest one. While toning down your monitor’s brightness is not going to be a huge savings – it will decrease your power usage and every little bit counts. Plus, there is an added bonus of reduced eyestrain.
Stop using your screen saver. Yes, you heard me. Contrary to popular belief, screen savers do not conserve power and in some cases, especially if the one you are using is dynamic, they actually use more energy. Setting your computer to go into sleep mode after it has been idle is a much more energy-efficient way of protecting the information that is on your computer screen.
Automate (or at least simplify) the process of turning off power to computers, printers, copiers, speakers, scanners – and anything else that has what is called “phantom power draw.” These are the things that use electricity even when they are not actively in use. This may seem obvious, but you would be amazed at how much energy is wasted (translate this as “money is wasted”) just because equipment is left on.
Invest in power strips and when your business is done for the evening, flip the off switch. By the way, when it comes to purchasing power strips – this is NOT the place to scrimp. You want to make sure that you not only choose one that can handle the energy load of the equipment but also serves as a surge protector.
For larger offices, you may want to consider actual power-management software. Depending upon the needs of your business, there may be an initial out-of-pocket fee – but you will recoup this back in the long run (and help the environment). And many utility companies often offer rebates to cover the cost of installing the software.
Energy Star also offers a basic power-management program, EZ GPO, for free on its website that may be enough for your small business.
If it is absolutely necessary to have a paper version of something, choose a print option that fits the actual use of the document. For internal documents (especially those that are not destined for long term use), set your printers to grayscale/quick print setting. It may also make sense to use online printing companies such as Vista Print, who almost always has some type of free promotion going on.
One piece of advice that I give to all of my clients is to have two types of printers: one for the good stuff and one for the day-to-day stuff. You can get what I refer to as “disposable” printers for about $30 and this comes with the first batch of toner. For this printer purchase refurbished ink which you can get at a fraction of the price. The money you save over the TCO will be much more than what it will cost to get a new one it when it does give up. I’ve had the same one for 2 years now!
Don’t EVER throw empty ink cartridges in the trash. Stores like Staples and Office Depot have recycle programs that will give you in-store credit. This is literally cash in your pocket. If you don’t have one near you do some research – there are online programs that will give you cash or make a donation to charity in your name.
When it’s time to trade your old technology in for new, take advantage of the many programs that will pay you for your old electronics. Even if there is no current trade-in value, there are companies that will give “scrap value.” Talk to other small businesses in your area or your neighbors and pool your junk electronics (and batteries!) together for better value. I personally take mine to the local computer repair shop – I let him get the recycle credit and he is always available the help me out with computer questions.
If you can’t find a program in your area that will give you cash or rewards points for your recyclables, check the e-Stewards website to find a Recycler in your area that is certified (and promises to properly dispose of your junk!)
Green technology is not only good for the environment; it’s also good for your bottom line. If you want to learn more, here are some great resources.