Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency

Require Computers Be Turned Off At Night, Save Millions

By turning off computers at night -- and making that a federal policy -- we can save millions (and energy, too). At the Department of Justice, I turn my computer off every day to save energy and money – but, because of security updates, I often find my computer turned back on in the morning, and I almost always find it on Monday morning, since updates were apparently performed the previous weekend. (And it’s often not on sleep mode.) I offer this experience not to say security updates shouldn’t performed, but rather to underscore what I consider an easy energy- and cost-saving mechanism: requiring that all federal government computers be turned off at night (and certainly not turned on to sit idle for more than 40 hours, unless absolutely necessary!). A recent study by the Alliance to Save Energy found that U.S. organizations waste $2.8 billion a year in energy costs by leaving computers on at night. Imagine how much the federal government wastes – 12 hours a day, upwards of a million computers. But while this is a powerful solution, it is also at once a simple solution – perhaps the simplest possible. It’s as easy as pressing a button, and sharing that policy, over e-mail, with every government employee. We owe it to the American people to set the right example – and we owe it to ourselves to save as much energy and money as possible.

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Idea No. 14064