how to save electricity on a computer
Turn off the PC when not in use
The very simplest way to save money
This is a habit well worth getting into. Many PC's at home, or in an office are left on day and
night. This uses a lot of unnecessary power.
Clearly this may be easier said than done when you have work that is on going.
Avoid starting more than one thing on the computer. Read below to see how and other reasons
not to do this.
If you really can not bring yourself to shut everything down, familiarise yourself with the
Hibernate options available on Windows, Linux and Mac software which will save a current
session completely and shut down.
Plan your computer usage - saving time and electricity
Plan to only do one thing at a time
You can save time and money on a computer by planning what you intend to do on it before
turning it on - and finishing those and turning it off after. Obviously it is better to do a few
things. Leaving a PC on day and night is not a very good economy.
Do not simply fill the desktop up with stuff you are in the middle of - you will not finish it that
Get into good planning habits. Save your files regularly, including "Work In Progress" copies if
required, and then use a simple notepad (pen & paper) to note down your context so you can pick
it up when you get back. Any person should be able to do this.
Set up a task, turn on the PC and get on with that task. When you have finished that, or need to
do something else, write down what you need to do next with that particular task, and then save
and close down all the associated programs.
Bookmark any related webpages instead of leaving tabs open, and if you know the browser well,
group them into a folder. Firefox has a useful tool - if you right click on a tab, it allows you to
"bookmark all tabs", which will group them into a bookmarks folder. Avoid relying on the
Firefox setting to show all the last tabs open when restarting for all the reasons below.
Here are good reasons to get into this habit:
You will get more done and not simply procrastinate on the web. Although
procrastinating on the web is actually quite good for ideas and relaxing at times, it is
counter productive when you actually want to do something.
By having many tasks on the go, you will loose track of what you have done, and may
find that you have got very little achieved at all.
The more things you are doing at once, the less easy it will be to close everything and
shut down at the end of the session.
Having many open documents means that you increase the amount of work lost if
something goes wrong.
As having many programs open also taxes the CPU and memory more, it is worth understanding
what happens to your computer when you have many, many programs open at once.
Generally it raises the risk of instability - crashes and corrupted files, or lost work.
Beware - programs open may have interactions you have not prepared for. This may
seriously lower the computers stability and cause it to crash.
CPU usage increases - this also reduces stability, and means that programs may start to
pause (hang) or crash and break. The computer may become unresponsive. It will also
drain more power on modern CPU's which normally "throttle" their speed, lowering it
when lightly used. It will cause the CPU to heat up, meaning the fan will need to speed
up, and the longevity of both the fan and CPU are reduced. Heat is usually a very bad
thing in a computer case.
Memory usage increases. The amount of RAM used will go up, and on modern systems a
certain amount of this is actually "Virtual Memory", where things are temporarily written
to a hard disk and then brought back into physical RAM when needed. This is known as
paging, or swapping. The more memory you use, the more of this virtual memory is used.
The more programs there are using virtual memory, the more often swapping will occur.
This may mean that the hard disk becomes very busy - known as thrashing. It will drain
power, lower stability, cause pauses and hangs, and also reduce the longevity of the hard
drive and PC in general.
Good planning, and finishing up tasks, or writing down where you were and closing things so
you can take them up again later, will prevent you running the risks highlighted here.
Software to aid planning
Thinking Rock is software that really allows quick and structured planning
of your tasks.
HOWTO: Use ThinkingRock to organise your thoughts.
It should be considered an essential part of freeing your computer to be switched off and not
getting bogged down with 20+ tabs of stuff you might get round to reading someday.
Use your software's power saving features
Linux, Windows and Mac OS X can all save power
Every recent system, be it Mac, Windows or Linux allow you to set up power saving features
that will put monitors into standby (not as good as turning it off), spin down hard disks, throttle
CPU speeds and slow fans. All of these things will save power. If you can, set the hibernate
mode of the PC up so that you can use this to shut down without worrying too much about
context. Set it to automatically turn off after an hour without usage or so. Take time to learn and
familiarise yourself with these settings, and they will allow you to have a less power hungry, and
I also found that for Windows (XP or Vista, including x64) there is a piece of software known as
Local Cooling. Local cooling automatically adjusts your Windows computers settings to optimal
power saving settings. Ensure you check the settings, and take note of the hibernate/shutdown
settings and adjust these to your taste.
Making a shortcut to hibernate in XP
I regularly hibernate my PC to save electricity. However, this generally requires a bit too much
faffing around, and more importantly, does not plug into Launchy.
I spotted this handy info on building a shortcut to hibernate. Once hibernate is enabled on your
machine, right click on your desktop, click create and new shortcut.
In the shortcut location add:
rundll32.exe PowrProf.dll, SetSuspendState
Click next and I recommend naming it Hibernate. You can then drag copies to your start menu,
quick start bar or what ever, and you can launch it with launchy once it has indexed it.
Original info came from The Computer Kid: Hibernate shortcut for XP.
Turning off peripherals is an easy way to save electricity
All those extra bits use their own power, turn 'em off!
Peripherals like the monitor, printer, speakers, external drives and so on all drain power when
turned on. Get into the habit of turning them off when the computer is off. Right at the wall
socket, as even in standby they are drawing power.
Also get into the habit of turning them off when taking screen breaks. There is no use leaving the
monitor on when away from the computer. One exception may be to leave the speakers on
playing music while you are taking a break, but generally, you can turn it all off.
Removing CD/DVD's that are not in use from the drives is also a way to save power, as the
computer will spin it up and check it from time to time when a disk is present, including on start
Find a surge master power strip with switches for all the sockets - the best will detect when the
PC is turned off, and power down the other sockets. I use a Belkin Surge Master Model
F5C100u, which is probably a bit ancient now and has no automatic switch off. It is an under-
monitor socket array, with labelled sockets for monitor, printer, computer as well as an AUX1
and 2. On the front panel, right under the monitor is a bank of individual pushbutton toggles for
these sockets. When I take a break, I can quickly flick off all but the computer. When required,
turning off the PC itself is a doddle. The Surge Master comes with additional things like a
lifetime guarantee, LED's to indicate when it is protected and earthed and a main power off