Yesterday, the New York Times ran a story called "Putting Energy Hogs in the Home on a Strict Low-Power Diet" (Larry Magid) which laid out some of the benefits of controlling electrical appliances which, though switched off, stilldraw power (and sometimes a great deal of power).
When I try to be more green or sustainable or ethical in my use of goods or services, I see if it passes my Grandma Test. That is, is this something one of my (late) grandmothers would do? Is this something they did, only it wasn't recognized as ethical or environmentally conscious, but thrifty or as an example of good housekeeping. The Grandma Test filters out flaky ways to waste my money (body squeegee?) or time. Ms. Theologian scooped me on the article reference above, so on to a practical application.
I use Ubuntu Linux at home and work; by default -- and my preference -- I use the GNOME desktop environment, rather than the KDE or Xfce. (Choice of environment is something Microsoft -- Aero with Vista -- and Mac -- Aqua -- users don't really have.)
- Add the Deskbar if you don't already have it. Amazing. Right-click in the top panel, yadda yadda.
- Look up "power" and install the gnome-power-manager.
- Set yours -- if you like -- to 15 minute "put computer to sleep when inactive" (default: never) and "put display to sleep when inactive" (default: 40 minutes)
This isn't a nap. This "sleep" is so deep that it unhooks my network connection at work, so be warned.