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Save energy with a quick download

August 17, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
If you are like many Americans, you leave your computer running pretty much all day and night. But you'd be surprised at not only the toll it takes on your electric bill, but on the environment as well. That's why many companies are offering options that let you start saving energy with a quick download. We've got a review of a few! Members of the Kolbe family spend hours each day on their computers, and even though they're careful about energy usage, it's not top of mind for the littlest ones.

"My daughter is 6 years old and my son who is 2 years old. For them making sure they turn the computer is off after they've finished using it is not on the top of their priority list," said Stephen Kolbe.

So they've taken some energy saving steps, including downloading an application that shuts the computer off after a certain amount of time. CNET's Jeff Bakalar says these kinds of options make a real difference when it comes to wasted energy and electric bills.

"A lot of people keep their computer on 24/7 and unfortunately, a computer that stays on all day is going to take up anywhere form 60 to about 250 watts per day," said Bakalar.

That's not much compared to a lot of other devices in the home, but it still adds up. Putting it in sleep mode helps, but doesn't cut out waste entirely.

"Sleep mode is kind of responsible for something we call phantom power, which is basically power consumed whenever anything is still plugged into an outlet its still consuming some kind of standby power," said Bakalar.

These new applications help eliminate that waste. CNET recommends several programs including: Power Manager, Auto Shutdown, CO2 Saver and more. Edison is a popular program, it's what the Kolbe family uses for their PC's.

"Edison has the capability to set time frames. So during day time we can have Edison turn the computer off after 15 or 30 minutes. In the evening it turns it off after 5 minutes," said Kolbe.

Some of the programs will even tell you how your shut-down impacts the environment. The Kolbe's have seen a drop in their electric bill and are sold on the savings.

"Being able to shut those off has been a big impact," said Kolbe.many of the

Many of the applications are free. Some may cost $10 to $20.

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