10 Ways to Save Computing Power

Lurking within your office and home is a group of workaholics that are costing you money. Who are these offenders? They're your computer system.

The average computer wastes roughly half the power it draws from its energy source. This power never reaches the processor or other components yet it creates heat that places extra demand on your cooling system. These energy vampires translate into higher bills and unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions. Here are 10 easy fixes to protect your wallet without reducing your computer's capabilities.

1. Upgrade

Make energy efficiency job one when shopping for a new computer or peripherals. Look for the Energy Star labels or check out the Climate Savers Computing product catalog.

2. Downsize

Switch to a laptop when you don't need the fuller capability of a desktop. Laptops typically consume less power and, hey, they can be used at a coffee house!

3. Take a Nap

Use computer and monitor sleep modes to save nearly half a ton of CO2 and more than $60 a year in energy costs.

4. Kill the Screen Saver

Screen savers make for pretty pictures but they aren't necessary on modern monitors. Studies show they actually consume more energy than if you simply dimmed or turned the monitor off when not in use.

5. Dim the Screen

Turn down your monitor's brightness setting. The brightest setting on a monitor consumes twice the power used by the dimmest setting.

6. Nix the Extras

Shut down such peripherals as printers, speakers and scanners when not in use.

7. Fight Phantom Power

Plug all your electronics into one power strip and switch it off when you're finished. If you want to avoid rebooting, put processors on a separate strip.

8. Minimize

Close unused or infrequently used applications. Is it really necessary to keep Photoshop, Word, Outlook, Safari and Internet Explorer all open at the same time?

9. Monitor Energy Use

Give your system a once over with a power meter that displays how much energy you're actually consuming.

10. Create a System

Establish multiple power schemes to address different usage models. For example, create a power scheme to play CDs that immediately shuts off your hard drive and monitor without putting your system into standby mode.


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Guest's picture

Great ideas! I use to leave my laptop on all night so it would be ready in the morning for me. Once I learned all of the energy I was wasting, I now turn it off and unplug. I do this for most of my electronics.

Guest's picture

You can also save on printer ink by just switching the font you use


Guest's picture

Thanks for the very very useful information.

Guest's picture

Before you buy, you can check the lists at energystar.gov to make sure your peripheral or power supply qualify. They have lists for lots of things besides major appliances.

Check for an 80plus power supply certification. Most power supply efficiencies vary with the amount of electricity being drawn. The efficiency of the power supplies they print on the box are for the most efficient power range. An 80plus certification guarantees at least 80% power supply efficiency at different power ranges. see 80plus.org

Western Digital and Seagate offer green disk drives, that typically spin slower than their non-green offerings. I use the WD drives, and I can't tell any speed difference.

I also make my life easier by using a 'smart' power strip that turns off all my peripherals when I power down my computer.

Guest's picture

One of the best ways is to get rid of apps on your netbook or laptop that you don't use. For instance, I had itunes running constantly on my netbook yet I update my ipod through itunes on my pc, not my netbook.
As soon as I stopped running it my power increased.

Guest's picture

I agree with Kate, if you make sure you turn it off every night that is to me the number 1 energy waster. Takes a couple of seconds if that.

Guest's picture

Its not really something I considered but maybe manufacturers to implement some of these things as default settings to save energy widespread. Imagine the cost and energy savings if every computer automatically went into sleep mode after a certain period of non-use!