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Feel Free to Sleep at School... If You're a Computer!

169 reviews


Areas of Science
Time Required
Long (2-4 weeks)
Material Availability
Readily available
Very Low (under $20)
No issues

Sandra Slutz, PhD, Science Buddies

*Note: For this science project you will need to develop your own experimental procedure. Use the information in the summary tab as a starting place. If you would like to discuss your ideas or need help troubleshooting, use the Ask An Expert forum. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions and offer guidance if you come to them with specific questions.

If you want a Project Idea with full instructions, please pick one without an asterisk (*) at the end of the title.


Sleeping in class isn't allowed... unless you're a computer! In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests that putting your school's computers to sleep when they're not in use might reduce a school's energy bill significantly. In a study done at the North Thurston public schools in Olympia, Washington, EPA officials worked with the district to cut computer energy and costs by approximately $45,000 annually! How? By implementing a variety of power-management strategies for the district's 4,000 computers. The EPA defines power management as a series of features available on current Windows and Mac operating systems that "place monitors and computers (CPU's, hard drives, etc.) into a low-power 'sleep mode' after a period of inactivity. Simply touching the mouse or keyboard 'wakes' the computer and monitor in seconds."

Would implementing power management at your school save energy and money? How much? What power-management settings would be best for your school? Are there any down sides to the various power-management settings? Do some background reading about power management, then gather the information you need, like the number of computers in your school and when they're used, and try the free calculators in the Bibliography to estimate energy and cost savings. How similar are the estimates from the various calculators? Is it worth trying power management at your school? Can you convince your school administrators, based on the results from the calculators? If your school does switch to power management, see if you can determine how accurate the calculator estimates were. One rough estimate would be to ask school administrators if they can help you compare energy usage between this year and the year before. Note: Make sure you're comparing the same months, as energy usage often fluctuates with seasons, too.


The details of the North Thurston Public School District case study can be found here:

An overview of what power management is and how to apply it can be found at:

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Global Connections

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) are a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.

This project explores topics key to Responsible Consumption and Production: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.


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General citation information is provided here. Be sure to check the formatting, including capitalization, for the method you are using and update your citation, as needed.

MLA Style

Science Buddies Staff. "Feel Free to Sleep at School... If You're a Computer!" Science Buddies, 20 Nov. 2020, https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/CompSci_p040/computer-science/sleep-computer-conserve-energy. Accessed 19 Apr. 2024.

APA Style

Science Buddies Staff. (2020, November 20). Feel Free to Sleep at School... If You're a Computer! Retrieved from https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/CompSci_p040/computer-science/sleep-computer-conserve-energy

Last edit date: 2020-11-20
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