Air Force IT saves big bucks, 9 cents at a time

Service expects to save $17M a year by turning off computers when not in use

The Air Force has discovered it can save millions of dollars by simply turning off its computers at night.

Although that might seem like common sense, a number of issues prevented the service from doing that for many years.

However, recent efforts to cut costs have netted savings and energy efficiency for the Air Force. By installing a common Microsoft desktop configuration on all of its nearly 600,000 computers and instituting energy-saving technologies, the service saves 9 cents a day per machine, Nextgov reports.

Debra Foster, deputy director of enterprise services at the Air Force, told Nextgov the service expects to save about $17 million a year from those efforts.

Air Force officials also credited the savings to the purchase of Energy Star-qualified computers, which were mandated by Executive Order 13423. Before the order, turning off computers after dark was a problem because systems administrators used the evening hours to install software and security updates and back up data.

But leaving computers on all the time wasted energy. The Air Force asked Microsoft to develop a program that automatically shut the computers off at night for a specified time of up to 23 hours.

Foster said the Energy Star computers are also designed to use less power, which allowed for immediate savings.

About the Author

Henry Kenyon is a contributing writer for Defense Systems.

Reader Comments

Wed, Aug 25, 2010 Daniel Arlington, VA

Penny-wise and pound foolish, I suspect. I'm a defense civilian (not Air Force), and it takes about 30 minutes for my DoD computer to boot up, decrypt the hard drive, log me in, apply security settings, start anti-virus, et cetera. If I leave my computer on, it takes about 1 second to unlock the screen and resume working where I left off the day before. If my hourly rate is $73.14, not including benefits, was the $.09 in electricity costs actually worthwhile?

Wed, Aug 25, 2010 Heath Champaign, IL

Article is a bit weak on details. If not doing updates at night, how do they do so it doesn't disrupt the user? If your new time for updates interrupts the user for even a minute you just lost your 9 cent savings. Additionally, Energy Star labelled computers have been around for ages. And what's the breakdown on savings for using Energy Star computers vs turning them off completely?

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