Members of the Kolbe family spend hours each day on their computers, and even though they're careful about energy usage, it's not top of mind for the littlest ones.
"My daughter who is six, my son who is two, making sure they turn the computer off after they've finished using it is not on the top of their priority list," said father Stephen Kolbe.
So they've taken some energy saving steps, including downloading an application that shuts the computer off after a certain amount of time. C-NET Jeff Bakalar said these kinds of options make a real difference when it comes to wasted energy and electric bills.
"A lot of people keep their comp on 24-7, and unfortunately, a computer that stays on all day is going to take up anywhere form 60 to about 250 watts per day," said Bakalar.
Granted, that's not much compared to a lot of other devices in the home, but it still adds up. Putting it in sleep mode helps, but doesn't cut out waste entirely.
"Sleep mode is kind of responsible for something we call phantom power, which is basically power consumed whenever anything is still plugged into an outlet its still consuming some kind of standby power," advised Bakalar.
These new applications help eliminate that waste. C-NET recommends several programs including 'Power Manager,' 'Auto Shutdown,' 'CO-2 saver,' and more. 'Edison' is a popular program as well. It's what the Kolbe family uses for their PC's.
"The capability Edison has is to set time frames, so during day time we can have Edison turn the computer off after half an hour or 15 minutes," said Kolbe. "In the evening it turns it off after 5 minutes."
Some of the programs will even tell you how your shut-down impacts the environment. "There's another program called 'CO-2 Monitor' that will let you know how much energy you're not emitting into the atmosphere."
'Power Manager' is geared toward Mac users.
"It hooks right into OS-10 and lets you specifically assign time restraints on power usage," said Bakalar. "It'll also let you assign sleep modes."
Especially cool-the programs are easy to use. "They're self explanatory, there's not a lot of technological jargon you really need to understand in order to operate them," said the C-NET editor.
The Kolbe's have seen a drop in their electric bill and are sold on the savings.
"Being able to shut those off has been a big impact," said Kolbe.