In June CalPlug launched a large-scale online survey at UC Irvine, to learn more about the behaviors of the UC Irvine community when it comes to managing their computers’ energy usage. The survey effort is one of the major projects funded at CalPlug by the California Energy Commission. The results are being analyzed now and will be published in various venues in the spring.

These results are important for understanding the possible ways to reduce energy consumption by computers. Making computers more efficient is one way, of course, but understanding how people use their computers is important also. The data will indicate what percentage of people turn off their computers at night or when they’re away for several hours. What percentage adjust their computers’ power management settings? What kinds of computers do people use at home and at work – laptops, desktops, tablets? Do they change the manufacturers’ settings for power management? Differences in behavior reported by different groups of respondents are also being studied. The project is about behaviors; observations or estimates of actual energy use are not included.

The online survey, which took each person about 30 minutes to complete, was sent to a sampling of the university family. Respondents were randomly selected from a large university’s email addresses and include 680 staff, 1,088 students, 190 faculty, and 60 retired staff and faculty (total N = 2,018); the respondents were 41% male and 59% female, ranging in age from 18 to 89. Respondents who completed the survey received a $5 Amazon gift certificate as a thank you.

Dr. Stuart Ross, Calit2’s assistant director for research development, oversees the CalPlug survey team. Dr. Joy Pixley is the team’s survey manager and chief number cruncher. CalPlug students Ankita Raturi, Alex Kindel, Alan Downs, and Jane Choi have contributed as research assistants.

Note: CalPlug and the Energy Commission are planning a follow-up study to recruit some of the survey participants for actual monitoring of their use of computers and power management settings on their campus desktops. Project specifics are not yet decided.

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(Office Hog article, page 6 of Interface)