This is an area where the Internet industry could use improvement. Here’s the damning statistic:
But at the request of The Times, the consulting firm McKinsey & Company analyzed energy use by data centers and found that, on average, they were using only 6 percent to 12 percent of the electricity powering their servers to perform computations. The rest was essentially used to keep servers idling and ready in case of a surge in activity that could slow or crash their operations.
We can do better than that.
Update: You should read this rebuttal of the article as well. (Chris posted a pointer to it in the comments but it should get top billing.)