Dear Umbra,

I normally turn my computer off when I leave the office. However, I was recently told that the act of turning on a computer requires more energy than is saved by keeping it off from 6 p.m. to 9 a.m. The person said that it is better to let your computer go into “sleep” mode and just wake it up when you get in. Is this true?


Dearest Bryna,

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Simply putting the computer in “sleep” mode will not permit it to get enough deep, R.E.M. sleep, making it distracted and jittery the next day. Har! Har! No, seriously, folks, turning off your computer at the end of the day is the way to go. It’s what the golden and panicked state of California recommended to office workers last year during its energy crisis, so you know it’s got to be sound advice. That “leave it on all night” rumor will be traced back to Enron sooner or later, trust me. Turning your machine off also reduces heat and mechanical stress and prolongs its life. So you’ll be saving energy and money, as well as postponing the day your machine gets landfilled. Computer manufacturing and disposal have become major new environmental issues.

It is also true that you can save energy by encouraging your computer to sleep as often as possible. Change the settings so that it goes to sleep sooner, and use the sleep mode instead of a screen saver. But at the end of the day, turn the thing off. Or even better, hit it with a sledgehammer, pack up your desk, and go work on an organic vegetable farm. That’s what I would love to do, if I could find my way out of these dang stacks.


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