Behavioral Power Management

Behavioral Power Management encompasses the cultural changes within a community that result in manual power management practices that drive increased energy efficiency and reduced carbon emissions.

For example, Climate Savers Computing calculated:

U.S. college students could save more than 2.3 billion kilowatt hours per year of electricity by enabling power saving features on their desktop PCs. That equals an annual savings of more than $200 million in energy costs and a 1.8 million-ton reduction of CO2 emissions from the operation of computers –equivalent to taking more than 350,000 cars off the road.

Update 2011-12-13
Ingrained behavior can also be a barrier to implementing Active Power Management tools. A survey by IT vendor Faronics says,

42 percent of UK businesses not having a policy in place to power down their desktops out of hours. This is despite the fact that an estimated £30.8 million is wasted every day through idle workstations, resulting in the highest energy drain in the office environment after lighting. The primary reason for this is the assumption that desktops need to be kept on in order for routine security updates to take place, with 36 percent of respondents believing that powering down desktops would hinder the day to day activities of staff and disrupt necessary maintenance by IT personnel…The impact of a sound desktop management strategy should not be underestimated, especially when considering that only 30 percent of a desktop’s energy is actually utilised productively.

Behavioral change and "Default Rules"

Good point, Warren. Peer pressure can be a powerful motivator, particularly in college communities.

I want to add the point your colleague Kevin Little recently made about the power of changing "default rules", quoting the 15 Feb issue of Science Magazine:

" . . decision-makers have a strong tendency to adhere to whatever plan is presented to them as the default option, regardless of its characteristics . . . The changes in behavior induced by changing default rules dwarf more “rational” approaches to influence choice such as information provision or [subject matter] education."

This suggests that shipping PCs with fairly aggressive default power managements settings, combined with appropriate education embedded within the control panel, would yield the quickest results.

Behavorial changes have to be reinforced to get results

The operative word in the statement above is "could" as in "US college students could save more than 2.3 billion kWh..."

It is helpful to know what is possible or what the potential is, but it is not sufficient. We don't get the results unless the behaviors actually change.

There are ways to drive behavioral changes: Make it easy, simple...Peer group pressure/learning helps create a cultural norm...make the cost of the inefficient behaver painful ...

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