I spend a good chunk of my life powered by the sun – solar power.
As I only have a single solar panel and one deep cycle battery – and I’m online for anything up to 14 hours a day, I have to be particularly careful about how I use electricity. If I become too wasteful, then I may have to crank up the generator, which is something I’m loathe to do. Gas/petrol generators are emissions intensive and I hate the noise pollution they create too; however quiet they are.
As mentioned in my article on greening computer use, tweaking your computer’s power management features can do a lot in terms of saving electricity.
A free software application that claims to take computer energy saving a step further is Granola. The makers of Granola says their software can reduce the energy consumption of PC up to 35%; with no noticeable performance loss.
How does it do it? Granola dynamically and automatically adjusts the power consumed by your computer based on CPU (processor) demand. If you’re not doing anything really intensive, such as playing a game or running video, it basically just winds back the amount of electricity required by your PC.
For someone like me, even saving a few watts here and there adds up to a lot over a year – and while mains grid electricity is cheap, solar power is more limited by weather conditions in terms of production. So I decided to give Granola a whirl.
After running it for an hour, here’s what it came up with in terms of savings:
For me, it’s the first figure that means the most – kWh savings. 100 kilowatt hours saving is the equivalent of over 100 days of solar power production with my current small mobile solar setup. That’s a lot, so I think that figure is based on 24/7 operation. In the settings it allows you to change that to the amount of electricity saved based on runtime; which in this case was about 11 watt hours over an hour, still significant given the previous (and what I thought fully optimized) settings.
Looking at the LED voltage indicators on one of my power adaptors, I can see the voltage drop between my battery and my computer is lower than what it usually would be under the current weather conditions (around 111F/45C – a little too hot for solar panels, which impacts on power production) – so there’s certainly some improvement and I’m not noticing any impact on performance.
The software being free makes it even more attractive :).
So, if you’re looking for a way to make your computing activities just that little bit more environmentally friendly or if you live off grid and want to conserve as much of that precious solar power as possible, download Granola and give it a whirl. Please be sure to read the notes on the site to determine if the software is compatible with your computer.
Kudos to makers of Granola for providing this application free. There’s also a fee-based (but very reasonably priced) Enterprise version available for companies. Where a business has hundreds of computers, even a 10% electricity saving over a year can add up to a lot of bucks (and a substantial reduction in electricity related emissions).