Reducing energy usage within IT environments is both a cost-effective business strategy and a crucial step towards minimizing environmental impact. As organizations of all industries increasingly rely on technology, the energy demand of data centers, servers, and office equipment skyrockets, leading to higher operational costs and a larger carbon footprint.
This article aims to present five actionable ways businesses can cut down on energy consumption. From simple, immediate actions like turning off unused equipment, to more significant investments such as upgrading to energy-efficient devices, these strategies will make your IT environment more sustainable.
1. Implement Energy-Efficient Practices
Implementing energy-efficient practices within your IT environment is a straightforward and cost-effective way to begin reducing energy consumption.
Encourage a culture of energy consciousness among employees by reminding them to turn off lights, computers, monitors, printers, and other peripherals when not in use. Placing reminder notices in strategic locations and using automatic lighting controls can help reinforce this habit.
Leverage built-in power management settings on all computers and devices. Enable features like sleep mode, which significantly reduce power consumption when equipment is idle. Educate employees on setting up and using these features to maximize their effectiveness.
Many office devices come with energy-saving options. For example, printers and copiers can be set to default to double-sided printing, reducing paper usage and the energy required for printing tasks.
Deploy smart power strips in the office to combat energy waste from phantom loads (the energy consumed by electronic devices while they are turned off or in standby mode). These power strips can automatically cut power to devices that are not in use, further reducing energy consumption.
Automate repetitive tasks across the IT infrastructure to reduce the need for always-on devices. Scheduling tasks for off-peak hours can also leverage lower energy rates and reduce the load on cooling systems during hotter parts of the day.
2. Upgrade to Energy-Efficient Devices
Modern devices are designed to do more work with less energy, providing an opportunity to achieve substantial savings.
Prioritize computers, monitors, printers, and other peripherals that have an Energy Star rating. These products meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. Energy Star-rated devices can save significant amounts of energy compared to non-rated models.
Reduce the number of physical servers in your data center by adopting server virtualization. This technology allows multiple virtual servers to run on a single physical server, increasing utilization and reducing the need for multiple energy-consuming machines.
Regularly review and optimize your network hardware. Older, inefficient switches and routers can be replaced with newer models that offer better energy efficiency and performance. Additionally, consider consolidating network devices where possible to reduce the total number of devices in use.
Invest in energy-efficient storage solutions such as solid-state drives (SSDs) which consume less power than traditional hard disk drives (HDDs). Additionally, consider data deduplication and compression technologies to reduce the amount of data needing storage, further decreasing energy usage.
Migrating to cloud services can reduce the energy consumption of maintaining on-premises servers. Cloud providers typically offer more efficient data management and processing, allowing businesses to leverage economies of scale for energy efficiency.
Ensure that your servers and workstations are equipped with high-efficiency power supplies. Look for units with an 80 Plus certification, which guarantees a certain level of efficiency, reducing wasted energy and heat generation.
Switch to LED lighting for monitors and signage within your IT environment. LEDs consume 75% less energy and have a longer lifespan compared to traditional incandescent and fluorescent lighting.
Upgrade your data center’s cooling system to more energy-efficient models. Technologies such as liquid cooling or hot aisle/cold aisle configurations can improve cooling efficiency, reducing the energy required to maintain optimal temperatures for IT equipment.
3. Optimize HVAC Systems
Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are significant energy consumers in any IT environment, particularly in data centers where maintaining optimal temperatures is crucial for equipment longevity and performance.
Implement smart thermostats to gain better control over your heating and cooling systems. These devices can adjust temperatures based on real-time needs, ensuring that you’re not overcooling or overheating unoccupied spaces. Smart thermostats can also provide valuable data on usage patterns, helping to identify further opportunities for efficiency improvements.
Consider implementing zoned cooling systems in larger IT environments. By cooling only areas that require it, rather than the entire facility, you can significantly reduce energy consumption. This is particularly effective in data centers where heat generation can vary significantly from one area to another.
Ensure regular maintenance of your HVAC systems to keep them running at peak efficiency. Tasks such as cleaning filters, checking refrigerant levels, and ensuring that vents and ducts are unobstructed can prevent overworking the systems, thus saving energy.
Install VFDs on HVAC fans and pumps to control their speed based on demand. VFDs adjust the motor speed of these components, significantly reducing energy consumption during lower demand periods.
4. Enhance Building Insulation
Improving the insulation in your building helps stabilize indoor temperatures, leading to lower HVAC load and energy consumption.
Invest in high-quality insulation materials for walls and roofs to minimize heat exchange between the interior and exterior of the building. Materials such as spray foam, rigid foam boards, or blown-in cellulose can significantly improve thermal resistance, keeping cooled or heated air inside where it belongs.
Consider adding insulating window treatments, such as thermal curtains or blinds, to further reduce heat exchange through windows. These treatments can be particularly effective in managing temperature variations due to direct sunlight or cold drafts.
Replace old, single-pane windows with double-glazed or energy-efficient windows designed to reduce heat transfer. These can reduce energy loss by 30% to 50%, and improve insulation.
Apply insulation to hot and cold water pipes and HVAC ductwork running through unconditioned spaces, such as attics or crawl spaces. This prevents heat loss in water pipes and air leaks in ducts, improving the overall efficiency of your heating, cooling, and hot water systems.
For flat or slightly sloped roofs, consider a green roof system that covers the roof with vegetation. Green roofs provide excellent insulation, reduce stormwater runoff, and help mitigate the urban heat island effect, all contributing to lower indoor temperatures and reduced energy use for cooling.
5. Invest in Renewable Energy Resources
Incorporating renewable energy sources into your IT environment represents a forward-thinking approach to reducing reliance on non-renewable power and minimizing your carbon footprint.
Installing photovoltaic (PV) systems on rooftops or unused land can offset a significant portion of your IT environment’s energy consumption. Consider the feasibility of solar installations based on your location, available space, and energy needs.
For businesses located in areas with consistent wind patterns, small-scale wind turbines can provide an alternative or supplementary source of renewable energy. While less common than solar power, wind energy can be a viable option for businesses with the right geographical conditions.
Geothermal cooling utilizes the stable temperatures underground to cool IT environments more efficiently than conventional air conditioning. By circulating water or a coolant through underground pipes, these systems can significantly reduce cooling costs, particularly for data centers.
For businesses unable to install their own renewable energy systems, purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) is an option. RECs represent proof that electricity has been generated from renewable sources and fed into the grid, allowing businesses to indirectly support renewable energy even if they can’t produce it onsite.
Consider using green hosting services for your websites and cloud services. These providers power their data centers with renewable energy, reducing the environmental impact of your digital operations.
Embrace a Greener Future with Sustainable IT Infrastructure
As businesses continue to depend heavily on IT infrastructures, the importance of implementing these energy-saving measures becomes increasingly critical. By taking proactive steps towards energy efficiency, companies can demonstrate environmental responsibility while benefiting from lower operational costs and improved system performance.
If you’re committed to reducing your business’s energy footprint, but are unsure where to start, reach out to ION247. From conducting energy audits to deploying the latest in green technology and providing ongoing management, we’ll be your guide on the path to a more sustainable IT environment.