- Start with the big picture. You can cut down on costs by doing simple and common sense things such as turning lights off or using automatic light switches, changing out older, less-efficient lighting, enabling power management on PCs, desktops, monitors and workstations. Close the window shades on hot and sunny days, and open them on cold and clear days. Also, don't forget about enabling power management on printers, fax, copy machines or other office equipment when not in use. In the winter, lower the ambient air temperature a few degrees; in summer let it rise a bit as small changes on large consumers of energy (heating, cooling, ventilation) have large benefits.
- Have an energy and heating ventilation air conditioning (HVAC) audit or assessment performed. Knowing where your issues and opportunities can help to establish a macro and micro plan of attack to maximize benefits.
- Leverage available energy rebates, incentives and other programs that reward energy efficiency. Some of these programs reward consolation or avoidance while others provide incentives for boosting productivity and efficiency, doing more work in the same energy footprint.
- Explore alternate energy programs. These include economizers that can leverage cooler outside air where possible to help offset equipment cooling.
- Check the structure of your rooms. In your computer, networking or equipment room (or closet) check for open floor tiles that result in less-than-efficient cooling; have your room assessed for proper air flow, including making sure hot air is not being exhausted into the cool intake of other equipment.
- Invest in space-saving technology. These include server consolidation with virtualization, data footprint reduction with data archiving, compression, data deduplication, snapshots, thin provisioning and intelligent power management (IPM) for servers (also known as drive down and second-generation MAID). These technologies can reduce the amount of data you have to store, therefore reducing the energy you consume -- and the cost.
There are other ways you can reduce your energy costs, however, this should provide a good starting point. You can also check out my book "The Green and Virtual Data Center" available at Amazon.com for many techniques and approaches for maximizing your energy efficiency, boosting productivity, addressing costs, as well as being environmentally responsible.
This was first published in February 2010