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Four favorite tips for green computing

Scholle Sawyer McFarland, | April 21, 2011
In honor of Earth Day, Macworld's readers chime in with their favorite tips for going green with their Macs.

When you need to check through a large document and can’t bear to do it onscreen, consider cramming more than one page onto a sheet of paper. To do this, go to the same menu, choose Layout, and then choose a number (up to 16) from the Pages Per Sheet pop-up menu. Choose a layout direction to control how the pages stack up.

Still got used sheets of paper lying around? Reader kevinbriankelly recommended using old printed documents for scrap paper. For more tips, see “Simple ways to save when you print.”


3. Turn things off when you’re not using them

The easiest way to save energy is to turn your equipment off when you’re not using it as reader Maxer and ckasper suggested. Putting your computer sleep is good, but a sleeping Mac still draws power. Turning it off altogether reduces the load even more.

Still, if you’re backing up your Mac, you’ll want to give it some time to do its thing when you’re not at your keyboard. Go to System Preferences, choose Energy Saver, and click on Schedule. A sheet will appear where you can choose a daily startup and shutdown time for your Mac. You can even determine a separate schedule for the weekdays and weekend by clicking on the Every Day pop-up menus.

Auto Start Up
Use the options in the Energy Saver system preference panel to turn on and shut down your Mac automatically each day.

Reader technologist noted that many devices—especially all those battery chargers and peripherals—continue to draw power (known as their vampire draw) even when they’re not being used. (See for yourself by plugging one in to a $20 Kill A Watt electricity usage monitor or Belkin's $30 Conserve Insight energy use monitor.) The only way to truly cut their power use to zero is to unplug them or use a “smart” power strip.

Sophisticated Circuits’ $199 PowerKey Pro USB 650 lets you choose which devices will be completely powered down. Belkin offers a number of energy-saving devices that combine, for example, surge protection with outlets that switch off at the end of the day. The $45 EcoStrip 2.0 switches off power to peripherals when your Mac is turned off. The not-quite-available-yet UFO Power Center will include four outlets that can be remotely controlled and report back on energy usage to an iPhone app.

You can get ahead of the game by buying energy efficient equipment at the start. Reader bradhurley pointed out that the ideal computers and monitors are rated EPEAT Gold or Silver. “These computers generally include recycled content, exceed Energy Star standards, and are made to be easy to recycle,” he said. All Apple computers are not only Energy Star qualified, but also meet the EPEAT Gold standard.


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