Go Green! OutletPC’s 2012 Earth Day Buying Guide

Happy Earth Day, everyone! Well, Earth Day was on Sunday. But at OutletPC, we’ve been using this entire week as an opportunity to find new, creative ways for us and our customers to be more environmentally-conscious.

Many people don’t know that computers and their related equipment can often be very power-hungry and use up lots of energy. With that in mind, we’re presenting you this handy guide to making your computer setup a little bit greener. We’ve chosen a handful of key computer parts that commonly are energy hogs, and can easily be changed to create real energy savings.

Your Power Supply

While your power supply may be the biggest energy user in your computer, upgrading it is incredibly easy and can make a huge difference in terms of energy usage. Most modern power supplies have now adapted and use less energy than their predecessors, but some companies have gone full-bore and offer entire lines of PSUs that are green to the core, from the manufacturing process all the way until you plug it in and switch it on.

A common misconception about “green” products is that they are inferior to their energy-hungry counterparts. Dead wrong: green power supplies offer the same performance as their counterparts, with the added benefit of using less energy. A power-hogging power supply can do worse things than hurt the environment and your wallet; often, green power supplies reduce overall system heat, improving your computer’s performance and its longevity. These energy-savers often run quieter as well.

Antec EA-650

OutletPC recommends the Antec EA-650 Green Power Supply for those who are looking to be more environmentally-conscious. This Antec Green PSU runs at 650W, meaning it can power just about any system, from the common to the extreme, while using less energy. The Antec EA-650 also has a 120mm DBB fan that keeps the power supply cool and whisper-quiet. Even cooler is that the PSU itself does not come with a power cable. Re-using your old power cable prevents it from becoming environmentally-harmful tech waste.

Your Hard Drive

As your computer runs, the platters in your hard drive spin over and over again. It takes a lot of power to move those heavy metal discs at such high speeds, not to mention ferrying information throughout the computer itself. If your computer was an evil Galactic Empire, your hard drive would essentially be Stormtrooper barracks.

Because of their duties, hard drives often are big culprits of energy hogging. Upgrading your hard drive is a valuable investment–not only will your computer use less energy and run cooler, but the hard drive itself will also last longer because of reduced wear-and-tear.

WD Caviar Green

Hard drive upgrades are also quite easy and can be pretty big difference-makers. If you need extra storage in your computer, use that as an opportunity to make your system greener and save some money on energy bills in the long run!

We suggest the Western Digital Caviar Green line of hard drives as a great choice for a green hard drive upgrade. The WD Caviar Green runs at lower temperatures and uses a fraction of the power of similar, non-green power supplies.

Your Monitor

Most modern computer monitors display a brightness frequency that, when stared at all day, has the same effect on the human eye as looking directly into the sun. With big, flat-screen stars perched in front of our faces all day, it’s hard to imagine how much power those displays actually use.

Swapping out your monitor for a greener option can make a massive difference in energy savings and overall power use. Your monitor is almost always on, and even when it is just sitting there on standby, it still uses a decent amount of power. Green monitors last longer, use less energy, and pack display resolutions equal to the top-of-the-line monitors currently on the market.

One of the greatest advancements in green monitors is the introduction of LED backlighting. Most companies have now begun to phase out traditional cold cathode technology in favor of LED backlighting. To keep a long story short, LED backlights mean thinner monitors, more accurate colors, and less power consumption.

One of the first companies to announce a complete shift to LED technology is ViewSonic, and for that reason, we recommend the ViewSonic VA1906a-LED 19″ Monitor (pictured above) as our green display of choice. The ViewSonic VA1906a-LED has a gorgeous, vivid 19″ screen and, more importantly, is Energy Star certified to use less power and be more environmentally-friendly than more common computer monitors, resulting in up to 40% energy savings.

Small Changes You Can Make

Going green is by no means limited to swapping out computer hardware. There are small habits you can develop to become less of an energy user and make a real difference. Turn the lights out in your home office as you’re leaving. Don’t let your monitor sit on standby, simply switch it off when you’re done using the computer. Unplug your laptop or phone’s charger when you’re not using it; the longer it stays plugged into the wall, the more energy it will use in the end.

Do you have any ideas for making your computer or life a little more green? Let us know! Submit your ideas and questions to askoutletpc@gmail.com and we’ll share the best ones with our readers.

Stay green!

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