Employees who leave their PCs on overnight each cost their companies £70 a year, according to a report produced by the National Energy Foundation.
The report found that 18 percent of UK-based office workers never turned off their PC when they went home and a further 13 percent frequently left their PCs on.
The result of this neglect is spiralling electricity use for the business concerned and additional carbon dioxide emissions across the UK equivalent to the output of 120,000 4x4 cars.
The report found that workers did not turn off their PCs for five main reasons:
- They couldn't be bothered (17.5 percent)
- No-one else in their office did (10 percent)
- Because it's unimportant (10 percent)
- They forget (8 percent)
- They are afraid of losing their work (1.8 percent)
"This is a problem for two reasons," said Gareth Ellis, a spokesperson for the National Energy Foundation. "Energy prices have doubled in the last 24 months, and companies' expenditure on electricity is obviously directly affecting their profits."
Ellis added that leaving PCs on overnight was also causing environmental harm. He said, "Electricity is the dirtiest fuel we use and there is an awful lot of carbon dioxide generated, which is the main greenhouse gas. That gives us problems with climate change."
The UK Government has pledged to cut carbon emissions by 60 percent by the middle of the century.
Ellis suggested that business managers should insist their staff shut down their PCs when they are not being used. He added that IT managers might consider deploying software that automatically shuts down unused PCs — or sends them into hibernation.
According to analyst group Gartner, companies' electricity usage is set to rocket further, particularly because of energy-sapping high performance datacentres.
Gartner vice president Rakesh Kumar predicted last week that firms who do not control their energy usage could end up spending half of their IT budget on energy.
UK businesses waste £115m each year by leaving unattended PCs switched on, the National Energy Foundation reported.
A business with 20,000 employees typically has around 2,500 PCs left on in any one evening, translating into extra electricity usage costing £175,000 per year.
Computers left on in standby mode save little energy, with a power usage of 70 percent of their maximum, PC supplier Fujitsu Siemens estimates.
Software supplier 1E has created an online tool and game to calculate business electricity usage.