Why desktop computers are costing businesses money – when not in use!

Here’s a news flash: the desktop computers that monopolise the office space that many of us call ‘work’ waste a surprising amount of energy when not in use! The problem has been dubbed ‘miscellaneous electrical load, ’ or MEL – referring to all the power use from miscellaneous electronics and other objects that are not major appliances, lighting, or heating and cooling.

Many of these additional devices spend a lot of time in standby mode; others are wirelessly communicating all the time. They use a constant stream of power.

Experts reckon that the problem is not any one device but rather, all of them in combination. Alan Meier, an expert on energy technologies at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, believes that because we’ve got more and more consumer electronic devices, and they are performing more and more wireless communications that require them to be, in some sense, always ‘on’ – as reported by the Washington Post.

“A lot more devices have network connections, so that they’re constantly talking to the Internet in one way or another,” says Meier. And this has a substantial energy footprint.
Now, think, for a second, how many MEL devices run in your office – costing money and affecting the environment as you sleep. Desktop computers are particularly prevalent in offices and commercial settings. In a recent study conducted by the California Plug Load Research Center at the University of California, 125 office desktop computers were monitored and of these machines, 61 per cent were shown to spend most of their time ‘on but user-inactive.’

Another thought is that desktops come with monitors, which adds even more to the consumption of energy.

The solution?

Well, the US state of California has just released a set of draft standards that, if adopted, would increase the energy efficiency of computers and accompanying monitors. A policy oriented solution that would change how manufacturers design many of today’s consumer electronics might just be what it takes, and could have a ripple effect worldwide, but Clemson University’s Joseph Burgett, in Energy Research and Social Science, proposes something less prescriptive; a switch that can wirelessly turn off everything in a home or office. This would require the right set up.

OR…just turn electronics off at the plug. Responsible energy management can save business money and reduce their environmental footprint. Certainly food for thought, if nothing else.

To find out more about MEL and possible solutions, read: Your desktop computer is wasting a surprising amount of energy while you’re not using it and Your home is full of devices that never turn off. And they’re costing you a lot of money.

If you’d like further information, feel free to contact the CH Systems team on 0208 302 8149 or