• Road to riches

    Taxpayers keep funding structures with big plans but who knows what efficacy, says Mandi Smallhorne.

  • Don't fall for Ponzi scams

    An expert unpacks the tell-tale signs to watch out for.

  • Inside Labour

    A smokescreen of misleading rhetoric won't make SA's problems go away, says Terry Bell.

See More

While you were sleeping…

Jul 09 2012 12:34 *Tim James

Related Articles

Eskom 'committed to growth, development'

Electricity price hikes for Cape Town

UK firm to help power southern Africa

Gigaba: We're working to avoid power cuts

SA battles to keep blackouts at bay

Rising municipal accounts to hit pockets


MORE often than not, when companies are asked how they are reducing their electricity bills or even carbon emissions they’ll mention their lighting retrofits, their recycling initiatives, their partnerships with other organisations or their logistics department.

The IT department rarely, if ever, features - despite being a significant contributor to energy costs.

South Africa aims to introduce carbon taxation in the 2013/2014 tax year, and we’re already seeing required integrated reporting for JSE-listed companies – all on the back of a 78% increase in energy prices in the past three years.

It is crucial that all business areas are on board when it comes to reducing electricity usage.

How PCs are wasting energy

sustainableIT recently conducted an analysis of one of the top four banks in the country and found that over 90% of their PCs were being left on overnight.

In this case, the IT department had been conducting security patching after hours and instructed staff to leave their PCs on for that specific purpose.

It’s something we rarely think twice about when we’re leaving the office, but the thousands of PCs that were being left on consumed energy with an associated 7 500 tonnes of CO² emissions.

They also incurred a hefty R4m electricity bill per annum as a result – without any employees at their desks.

The sad part is that the waste is unnecessary.

Simple tooling can shut PCs down and “wake them” remotely without making any changes to network security whatsoever, but a lack of education and understanding about the options available in the PC power management tech space has kept companies from running as efficiently as they should.

To be specific, IT administrators still mistakenly believe that wake on lan is not “enabled” on their network and that they have no ability to wake devices for patching purposes. (Some IT administrators still believe that it’s not “good” for PCs to be continually be switched on and off – which may have been true in 1980, but it’s hardly relevant in 2012.)

Servers are yet another source of IT electricity waste. Gartner has revealed that 12-14% of the world’s servers actually have no use whatsoever – but most companies are hesitant to take action to remove or optimise them, because they are terrified of losing data.

Yet by forcing the server software into the lowest energy-using state while running non-critical functions (such as antivirus checks overnight), you can cut your server energy use by as much as 12% with no impact on performance.

The reality is that there are tools available that can overcome tech limitations, without any changes to network security or regular operations whatsoever. Unfortunately, we aren’t using them.

Make eliminating IT waste a priority

There really hasn’t been a compelling reason for chief information officers (CIOs) to reduce their electricity usage or carbon emissions. CEOs aren’t putting pressure on IT executives to reduce energy and there is no legislation compelling them to do so.

However, the imminent carbon tax and Eskom price hikes may soon place this issue squarely on the agenda of every CIO.

By taking responsibility and investigating existing technology that can streamline inefficient operations, companies can reduce their energy bill and “green” their IT departments in a matter of weeks... and go to bed with peace of mind.

* Tim James is a guest columnist and MD of sustainableIT, a market leader in the fields of green ICT and sustainable computing. He will be writing a monthly column exclusively for Fin24.

electricity  |  businesses



Read Fin24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Company Snapshot

We're talking about:


Johannesburg has been selected to host the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in 2017. "[The congress] will ensure that small business development remains firmly on the national agenda and the radar screen of all stakeholders, the Small Business Development minister said.

Money Clinic

Money Clinic
Do you have a question about your finances? We'll get an expert opinion.
Click here...

Voting Booth

People who fall victim to Ponzi scams are:

Previous results · Suggest a vote