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Staffordshire Council to cut energy bills with auto PC shutdown tool

Rebecca Thomson

Staffordshire County Council is expecting to cut its energy bills by £40,000 a year and reduce its carbon footprint with a new program written by a member of staff.

By the end of August the program will be capable of switching off all 8,000 of the council's computers after 8pm, ensuring that no PCs are left on overnight.

Peter Kear, team leader for Staffordshire ICT desktop support, wrote the software using the scripting tool AutoIt.

The system looks for and turns off any PCs left on between 8pm and 8am on weekdays and throughout the weekend. It also produces graphs showing how many ­machines were left on, how many were turned off, and what energy savings were made.

Peter Kear said turning the computers off, instead of leaving them in hibernation mode, will slash the council's energy bills and reduce its carbon footprint.

There are currently 6,000 computers covered by the system, which is being instigated as part of the council's wider patch-management process.

The council also plans to send staff who leave their computers on overnight an automatic e-mail reminding them that they need to switch their machines off each night.

Kear said, "It is about education, as people who turn their PCs off are more like to turn off their monitors as well. This system is a safeguard for those who cannot get back to their desks before the end of the day."

He said there is an exclusion list for PCs that need to be on overnight. The software is also able to ignore any computers at employees' homes connected to the system via broadband.

"IT teams have a large part to play in cutting councils' energy costs," Kear said. "We are also looking at thin client devices instead of PCs, as they use a lot less energy. We will roll them out to public-facing libraries and things like that first, before looking at giving them to some ­departments."

Action needed on green IT, says study >>

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