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Ford Turning Off PCs at Night to Save $1.2M

Despite more efficient chips and monitor technologies, the electricity bills for large scale computer use are still considerable for corporations. While not much can be done to reduce power consumption while a computer is in use, Ford Motor Company is launching a new initiative that aims to save over $1 million a year through smarter power management.

Under a new program called PC Power Management, the power settings on Windows laptops and desktop computers are centrally controlled to reduce energy waste and optimize software updates. With its power profile enabled, each PC monitors its usage patterns and determines when it can be turned off. If the user is working late, he or she will be alerted of the approaching power down and given the opportunity to delay it. In addition, the PC is able to detect when a Microsoft Office product is active and is able to save open documents before shutting down in case the user is not present.

A managed shutdown of computer systems not in use, especially overnight and on weekends, further reduces energy use. At the same time, the system ensures all computers connected to the Ford Intranet are awake and able to receive software deliveries during off hours, decreasing downtime during working hours due to software loads.

These steps are expected to save Ford $1.2 million annually on power costs alone. Not only that, but Ford will also reduce its carbon footprint by an estimated 16,000 to 25,000 metric tons annually.

"In the past, as many as 60 percent of Ford's PC users haven't shut their PCs off at the end of the business day, resulting in wasted energy," said Keith Forte, Ford IT project supervisor. "Going forward, we'll be able to manage PC power consumption more efficiently while minimizing interruptions during the working day as a result of software updates."

PC Power Management is being rolled out to Ford computer users across the U.S. this month. It will be migrated to Ford operations around the world later in the year.

According to 1E research, which helped Ford in its program, almost half of all employees who use computers at work typically do not power them down at the end of the working day. In the U.S. alone, over $2.8 billion of PC power is being wasted every year, according to 1E.

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.