Windows

Five tips for conserving PC power

Share this list with your users to teach them a few easy ways to reduce power consumption.

Cutting back on the power your PC uses is a pretty simple task. All it takes is a little consciousness and the resolve to change a few basic procedures. Here are some of the easiest ways to reduce your power consumption and increase energy efficiency.

1: Turn it off when you're not using it

Okay, this is the easiest of all easy techniques. Turn the computer off when you're not using it. Yes, you can use hibernate mode. Yes, the computer can go to sleep. But if you really, truly want to make sure there's not a power trickle moving among those black wires connecting everything, power down and flip the power strip switch to off.

2: Unplug your peripherals

If you don't have a power strip that manages the power for the whole system, unplug your peripherals -- printer, scanner, speakers, what-have-you -- when the system is not in use. If your peripherals are plugged into the wall and there's no power strip to control the draw, they are pulling a small amount of power. Sure, it's just a few watts, but you'd be amazed at how they can add up.

3: Manage your power plan

Your computer comes with a power management system you can set up to customize the way your computer draws power for processing. Windows 7 is particularly good in the power consciousness department, helping you balance power and performance by choosing the power management plan you want, managing the power your devices consume, and increasing the efficiency of how your system uses resources.

To display the Windows 7 power settings, click Start, display the Control Panel, and click Hardware And Sound. Choose Power Options and review the power plans. Click Change Plan Settings and adjust the display, sleep, and brightness settings to get into the nitty-gritty details (Figure A).

Figure A

You can select and customize your power management plan in Windows 7.

4: Get rid of your screen saver

We've always thought screen savers did something helpful. Isn't the idea that having a screen saver keeps things moving on the screen to help ensure that whatever's displayed there doesn't "burn itself into the screen"? First, that kind of saving grace is no longer needed. And second, screen savers are more about looking at photos of your dog or your garden than they are about computer management. And third: Turn. The. Monitor. Off.

5: Keep an eye on your consumption

In addition to trying on these basic power-saving techniques, you can get a little help in making sure that you keep your power use low. A number of third party-vendors offer energy monitoring tools that help you track your power usage and plan for tasks and times of day. For example, CO2 Saver helps you reduce the amount of power your computer is using when it's idle and lets you keep an eye on your overall carbon output.

About

Katherine Murray is a technology writer and the author of more than 60 books on a variety of topics, ranging from small business technology to green computing to blogging to Microsoft Office 2010. Her most recent books include Microsoft Office 2010 P...

13 comments
mig25jet
mig25jet

I have a IBM laptop that dims the screen so much, you can't see anything when outside. (Yeah, I have to use my laptop outside sometimes). My new Toshiba laptop only gets 1hr 8mins when running on the battery, with the whole machine active. Does anyone know a cheap and simple solution to running on portable batteries for say up to 6 hours? (Could I couple 13 regular cells together and plug that into the charging input? Anybody done that?) Any help appreciated. chrisk@bell.co.za

nehagarg2822
nehagarg2822

There are some articles where i have read that to increase the battery life of your laptop, you must keep it charging and should not remove the charger unless required. But, doesn't it consume too much of power. How are we supposed to save power? Most of the tech geeks today use laptops and a lot of energy is wasted.

InvisibleBoss
InvisibleBoss

This looks more like "saving electrical power" in genearal (re. "PC power"). To the actuall PC "saving", I miss the references during use. Yes, its good to turn off the pc at times. Not least related to "memory fragmentation". Less available memory available after running numerous tasks, makes the PC work harder "disk swapping", and then using more power. How about leaving CD or DVD inside the tray? It spins up every time you search a file, or open "My computer". How about all the resident tasks and programs which too often "check" stuff, or go online for updates? Most of these are not even initiated by the user, - and maybe you dont know there are any? Printer software, Windows, iPod wares, chat programs, index services, background antivirus searches... and dozens more. How about dust inside cabinets ("condo rabbits")? It makes the cabinet warmer, and more active fans. How about external USB devices? Disks that are used (VERY) rarely should be disconnected. They also spins up like the internal disk(s), and maybe never "doze" at all. Same with printers, which "doze off" too long after use (adjust settings). Do you also need the bright monitor setting? Have I forgotten other major stuff? How abt temperature where u work.... An indignation regarding power plants.. Old plants have worn equipments, and often more than 25% of the "production" is "lost", before reaching the net (e.a. turbines at hydro plants..).

brianzion
brianzion

To use this built-in command: 1. Click on "Start button -> All Programs -> Accessories". Right-click on "Command Prompt" and select "Run As Administrator". If you are prompted to enter password, enter the password and continue. You can also open Command Prompt in Administrator mode by typing "cmd" in Startmenu Search box and press "Ctrl+Shift+Enter". 2. Now provide following command: powercfg -energy 3. That's it. It'll take 60 seconds and will create an HTML file which you can open in your web browser.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Where is the exhaust pipe, and where do I put the combustible fuel?

fionacampbell
fionacampbell

These tips are useful but really only suitable for single users. Larger organisations can find it difficult to deploy and enforce power management across their enterprises. Originally this was because Windows included no features to deliver power management centrally. The latest versions of Windows have somewhat caught up supporting a single policy per PC. Diverse organisations can find this a straitjacket and there is a whole industry in third-party management tools. The better tools support directory integration, per-user / per-machine management, scheduled power settings and reporting features. Data Synergy???s PowerMAN tool is a popular suite that gives IT staff all the tools they need to quickly and effectively deliver enterprise wide power management.

widget3d
widget3d

you need to attach some numbers to this one. like power savings if u just turn off the monitor each day at lunch. and or printer. etc. would be nice to see some real world savings.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

If so, buy a car inverter. It uses the cigarette lighter adapter for power and can provide AC at power ratings of up to 750VA or more. To charge your laptop, you would only need about 150VA.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

That I assume would be the Power going into the computer. Most Electricity is produced by burning Fossil Fuels so that is the source of the CO2 that the computer produces. ;) Of course with the way that Power Grids are now developed they provide Power for Peek Loads so there is a lot of Waste when the Grids are not being used to their Maximum available power. Naturally that all falls to bits if you live in an area where the Power isn't generated by burning Fossil Fuels. If all your local Power comes from Hydro there is no ongoing CO2 emissions just what was produced as they constructed that Power generating Plant or what is produced as they maintain it. :p Of Course the Ozone Produced by some computers is a different story. ;) Col

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

The numbers will be different for each system. But it does add up. I had been leaving a desktop system on 24/7 so I could meet a response requirement for work. When I started turning it off, my electric bill went down about $5 a month.

Slayer_
Slayer_

In the olden days, turning off your monitor was like turning off a light bulb, they both uses roughly 100 watts. Your tower was another light bulb, 90-110 watts. But it has been 15 years since this was accurate... Many laptops still only use 100 watts

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