Your computer wastes as much energy being a space heater as it does computing, because most computer power supplies are less than 50% efficient. Want to cut your desktop's power use by almost half, help it run cooler, and make it more reliable, all at the same time? Get a machine with an 80 Plus power supply.
80 Plus is a certification program for power supplies which says the device must be at least 80% efficient and have a power factor of at least .9. According to their fact sheets:
- "Efficient power supplies directly save 85 kWh per desktop PC per year, and 300 kWh per server per year."
- "reduced heat output increases computer system reliability by up to 40%."
- "higher power factor reduces current draw by roughly 50%, which means that up to twice as many computers can be placed on the same branch circuit."
- "computers with 80 PLUS power supplies will reduce building cooling loads."
They also mention that 80 Plus power supplies can eliminate the need for a fan, making your computer quieter and more pleasant to be around. This is one of those great situations where being greener means being higher quality across the board, with multiple benefits. So get yours today! I'm not aware of any big-name brands that use 80 Plus certified power supplies, but a small Oregon computer maker, Computer Technology Link (CTL), sells them. (Their circuit boards are lead-free, too.) And the 80 Plus website has a page describing how you can specify certification from manufacturers when making purchases.
Although some power supplies are 50% efficient, I believe that most PC power supplies are close to 70%.
EnergyStar requires 80%. Having a different certification that also requires 80% seems like it'll just confuse consumers. Why not just use EnergyStar? It's a name people recognize.