It staggers us when we speak to customers about energy savings techniques and we hear that they have gone through PC and monitor replacement programmes, justifying them in the main on the back of energy savings. Yes, replacing your CRT’s with LCD’s will save energy and putting in more efficient processors will do the same. But what about the environmental costs, the hidden costs and most importantly, the business case? Being a bit more innovative may actually achieve better results!
Unfortunately or fortunately, we as IT professionals have the ability to drive technologies into organisations with the old adage of ‘bull#%*@ baffles brains’. We often justify technologies and technology replacements because they are the next cool thing and often the business knows know better, after all, we are the custodians of technology. This is both frightening and opportunistic. Abuse of this position creates distrust and unease, however using this in the correct way creates a tremendous opportunity for IT to innovate and drive real business change.
Let’s get back to the case in point and demonstrate the real business case in energy savings with a CRT replacement project. For the sake of example, let us assume that an average CRT uses 100w of energy and an average LCD uses 40w, a saving of 60w. Over a 24 hour period, running 365 days a year, the saving in energy equates to 525 kWh or roughly R260 /year. Assuming the LCD cost you R1000, you are looking at close on a 4 year payback, but it actually gets worse than this, let us explain.
In reality, you cannot justify the business case on savings over a 24 hour period, at most a monitor is in use on average 8 hours per day, for the remaining 16 hours the monitor should be in standby, even if it is a CRT. Turning on power savings is not difficult through applying either group policies or implementing power management software, if you are not doing this, you should be. In this scenario, your savings are only 60w for 8 hours per day, equating to 175 kWh of savings or a mere R87. How does a 10 year payback period sound?
You can build a very similar example with processors. These can also be turned off using PC power management solutions and guess what, you get the savings without the replacement of the equipment. With PC power management solutions coming in at around R200 per PC, you should get the picture. That R6000 processor replacement justified on power savings is no longer that attractive.
That is not the end of the picture however. The e-waste that is created through such programmes is enormous and this is becoming more and more of an issue on the African continent. We have a responsibility as corporate citizens to ensure that equipment that has to be replaced is disposed of in a responsible manner. There are also the hidden costs in project management, procurement, user downtime etc that all contribute negatively to your CRT or processor replacement programme.
We certainly do not advocate that hardware should never be replaced. There are some very sound reasons why this is sometimes necessary, usually concerning operating system supportability or processing capacity. However, and we stress this, never justify such replacement on energy savings alone. Rather innovate the way you deliver your services and apply power management techniques and software to realize energy and savings reductions. Only after you have exhausted all of these opportunities should you consider replacement.