Home Energy Savings 10 Tips to Improve the Energy Efficiency Of Your Computer

10 Tips to Improve the Energy Efficiency Of Your Computer

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guy working on pc

Your computer is an important energy consumer in your home. Computers use a lot of power in general, and can make a significant contribution to your energy bill, especially if its a very old computer.

If you’re looking to inrease the battery life of your laptop or slash your electricity bill, here are top tips to make your computer more energy efficient.

1. Use a laptop instead of a desktop.

A laptop will save electricity over a desktop. Laptops typically use between 15 and 45 watts while desktops consume between 70 and 200 watts. Run your laptop on battery power until it needs to be recharged to reduce your energy consumption. Tablets save even more energy because they consume less electricity than a laptop.

If you have to use a desktop, be sure to use an LCD screen. This is where the most energy is consumed. Brand new LCDs are more energy efficient than older LCDs. When using a desktop, be sure to reduce the brightness on the monitor and switch it off when you’re not working.

Enable hibernate mode.

Hibernate mode means the computer saves its state, and then turns itself off. It will reload the same state when you switch it on again, which makes it boot up faster than a regular startup. The computer uses zero power during hibernate mode.

To enable hibernate mode, go to Control Panel -> Hardware and Sound -> Power Options -> Click Choose what the power buttons do -> Click the Change Settings that are currently available.  -> Select Hibernate mode and save changes.

2. Get rid of any screen savers.

Screen savers were created to fix a “burn-in” issue with CRTs by getting activated when the computer is left idle.

Burnt-in image on CRT

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Since LCDs won’t burn-in in the same manner as CRTs, screensavers are no longer necessary. If you are still using screensavers, you’re simply wasting electricity. They tend to use a lot of energy to play the screen animation. Instead of using a screensaver, be more energy-efficient by getting the screen to automatically power off when the computer is not actively being used rather than sitting idle.

Making Your Computer Power off

  1. Click Start and type in “Control Panel in the Search box.
  2. Select “System and Security.” Look for “Power Options. You’ll see a number of options. Click the “Change When the Computer Sleeps” link, and you’ll see options that allow you to configure when to “turn off the display” and “put the computer to sleep”.

3. Enable hibernate mode.

Rather than switching off your computer and having to launch all of your apps from a complete reboot, a much more energy-efficient option is to simply let your computer sleep or hibernate. Hibernate mode means the computer saves the state – open programs and documents – and then turns itself off. It will reload the same exact state when you switch it on again. The best thing about hibernate mode is that the computer uses zero power during this mode.

4. Disconnect any device you’re not currently using

Whenever you connect external devices like hard drives, printers, scanners, etc. to your PC, they use power even when they are not in use. This is why you should close any devices that you’re not actually using from the PC, or you will simply be wasting electricity.

5. Quit programs you’re not actively using.

If you have any programs on your PC that you’re not using, you should quit them instead of just minimizing them. Those programs actively create processes even when you’re not actively using them. The more programs you have open at any point in time, the more processes are being created in the background. You can see your apps and processes your Task Manager. In Windows, press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to open Task Manager.

Here’s how to open Task Manager in Mac:

  1. Press Command+Spacebar to get the Spotlight search field.
  2. Start typing “Activity monitor.”
  3. Select the Activity Monitor when it comes up. This will take you to the app.
Task Manager

The above screenshot shows how much memory is being used by open programs. This is why you should close any programs you’re not currently using.

6. Use a power efficient browser.

Always try to use a power efficient browser that doesn’t hog performance. Firefox and Google Chrome are fast browsers, but they are performance hogs. Edge or Opera would be better for your smartphone or tablet.

Here’s a list of browsers ranked by power efficiency:

Browser power efficiency test

7. Switch off your computer when you’re not using it.

Switching off your computer when you go to bed will reduce it’s energy consumption and save you money. You may also want to leave it in Hibernate mode, as it consumes no energy in that state, and boots up a lot faster than when it has to start from scratch.

8. Use an inkjet printer.

Use an inkjet printer for your home office. It is the most energy-conscious choice. Laser printers by contrast, consume hundreds of watts when active, and tens of watts in standby mode.

9. Switch on your printer only when you need it.

Only switch on the printer when you intend to print, and then turn it off immediately afterwards. You’ll waste electricity if you leave it on all the time.

10. Use your computer until it’s obsolete.

The latest computers do not save a lot more energy than computers created in the year 2005. As long as you’re using an LCD screen, getting a brand new computer won’t bring you much savings. The main reason to keep your current computer for longer is mainly environmental.