Report: Save more money with better power management

It might be the most vexing question of the technology age: Is it better to turn off a PC at night or leave it on?

According to a new Gartner report, flipping the switch -- and going even further by unplugging the PC -- saves large companies a lot of money. However, simply using a PC's power management settings saves even more money and has the added advantage of not interfering with work.

A 2,500-PC organization that uses power management settings on its PCs can save US$43,300 per year, according to the report, entitled .

Turning off and unplugging machines saves another $6,500, but this approach would interfere with employee productivity because the company's IT staff would then have to perform updates during the day, noted the report's coauthors, Gartner analysts Federica Troni and Charles Smulders.

"We believe [unplugging] is impractical, and is likely to obstruct productivity because updates can't easily be performed after hours," Troni said in a news release.

Gartner used three scenarios to calculate the cost of power consumption for desktops, notebooks and associated monitors: "well-managed," "unmanaged," and "unplugged." Each scenario assumes employees work an eight-hour business day 230 days per year, with PCs in active use 70 percent of the working hours. Cost is calculated at $0.1 for one kilowatt hour.