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Going Green

Are energy-efficient laptops really the answer?

by Benjamin Kerry 04 Mar 2011
Are energy-efficient laptops really the answer?

Although laptops, in common with other appliances such as TVs and PCs, are still associated with elevated carbon footprints, they have nonetheless become more energy-efficient in recent years. Manufacturers have progressively developed their laptops’fans, circuit designs and power management features, with such components as chip sets, processors, power supplies and memory have seen their efficiency particularly enhanced.

Are Manufacturers Changing?

Major manufacturers are releasing energy-efficient laptops for a number of reasons. Such laptops respond to the needs of both individuals and organisations to improve productivity whilst also saving energy. Dell, for example, stated in December 2010 that it had engineered its laptops and desktops to be 25% more efficient than they had been just two years previously. Such gains have accelerated in recent years, with the same firm adding that its Latitude laptops had improved in energy efficiency by 16% between 2006 and 2008.

Consumer Pressure

Nonetheless, there are various potential disadvantages of energy efficient laptops. The cost to manufacturers of ensuring greater energy efficiency often results in a drop in specification and power compared to less efficient laptops at the same price, and given consumer demand for the cheapest, fastest and best specified devices, it is by no means certain that manufacturers will subsequently ever make enough money. Other than tightening regulations, consumer pressure is one of the few ways that laptop manufacturers are going to be persuaded to maintain their rate of development of energy-efficient hardware.

There are certainly several reasons why customers ought to prioritise energy efficiency,however, such as the potential savings involved. Laptops are already renowned for being much more energy-efficient, for example, than PCs. Around 80% less energy is typically used by a new laptop computer than a new desktop computer. This amounts to a reduction in its carbon footprint of around 110kg each year.

It must also be asked whether energy-efficient laptops even make a big difference to global warming?

Indeed, laptops still frequently consist of a great amount of toxic material, and are much harder to upgrade than PCs. With these factors in mind,perhaps the most ethical question consumers should ask themselves prior to purchasing any laptop is whether they need one at all?


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