Network administrators for the Spokane, Wash., Public Schools spent $104,000 in 2009 to slash energy consumption on 10,000 of the district’s 13,000 computers. And the return on the initial investment has been evident and immediate, they say.
The money purchased a software installation that shuts down office or classroom computers after a set period of inactivity. Many teachers and staff tend to leave PCs on all the time, said Steve Payne, the district’s tech manager.
The school district is achieving $121,000 in savings each year by having the shutdown software installed, Payne said.
The program, named Surveyor, comes from a Seattle firm called Verdiem.
Even better for the school district: A $100,000 Avista energy-efficiency rebate covered most of the cost of the software, said Dan Wordell, the district’s technology supervisor.
“It works really good—so good that we got complaints at first because it was shutting down PCs people wanted to keep running into the night,” Wordell said.
The same software is used by the city of Spokane on 1,300 of its computers, producing an annual savings of about $15,000, said Michael Sloon, the city’s information systems manager.
“Shutting down PCs using software is one of the easiest, lowest-hanging fruit options businesses or groups have to cut costs,” said Jeff Warner, sales manager for California-based Verismic, which produces a competing product to manage computer power use. Other companies that sell such products to schools include NetSupport, SchoolDude, and Tripp Lite.
Industry energy audits suggest that shutting down computers that normally are on all the time, using preset schedules, can save as much as $60 per year per PC.
Yet not that many companies and schools have adopted such power-management tools, Warner said. “That’s because most IT managers feel they’re already trying to do too much,” said Warner.