Electricity is expensive and with the general population becoming more power-conscious, more people are looking for ways to save as much energy as they can.

While computers will always take up energy there are a number of great ways to significantly reduce how much energy your computer uses up. Here are five of the best of these ways.

1. Plug Into A SmartStrip

smartstripMost computer stations have a number of different things plugged in, including the computer itself, a monitor, a printer, speakers, and so on. All of this equipment is often kept on during the day, and at the end of the day, all of these devices are switched off. However, even left idle, devices like speakers and printers can suck up a lot of power.

A SmartStrip can allow users to plug all of this equipment in, and when the computer is on, all of the other devices receive power, but when it’s off, everything else is switched off too. This makes a lot of sense, as devices like printers simply don’t need to be on when the computer’s off, and, as mentioned, devices left idle can consume quite a bit of power over time.

I myself have not used a SmartStrip, however according to this review you could save between $1.60 and $5.70 per month using such a device. That’s a pretty impressive $19.20 to $68.40 per year.

2. Schedule Your Computer To Shut Down

Many people leave their computers on at all times, but this can end up using a lot more power than needs to be used. While some suggest that the power used to turn a computer on and off exceeds the power that would be used by simply leaving schedulethe computer on, this is not true at all. Others suggest that the components of a computer get worn down quicker if a computer is turned on and off often, and while that might have been true years ago, development and continuous improvement in computer technology has resulted in parts that are able to last longer no matter how many times a computer is turned on and off.

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Users who aren’t in the habit of switching their computer off every night can head to the Control Panel in Windows to schedule tasks, one of which can be shutting down the computer automatically.

According to The Simple Dollar, if your computer is switched off for 10 hours per day (i.e. essentially overnight), you could save around $27 per year.

3. Tweak Your Computer’s Energy Settings

All modern computer operating systems have settings that enable users to change the energy settingsenergy-savings on their computer. These settings include how long the computer will wait during inactivity before going to sleep. Users can edit these settings to try and use as little power as possible while ensuring that it’s still convenient for the user. Over the long haul, adjusting these settings can save a lot of energy, which can translate into a lot of money.

Tweaking the energy settings n your computer is pretty easy. Windows users simply need to head to the Control Panel, click on “system and security,” then go to “power options.” OS X makes things even easier, and users can go to System Preferences, and then click on “Energy.”

If your computer is asleep for a few hours per day due to tweaking the power profile as suggested above, you could ave around $10 per year; not a huge amount, but certainly better than nothing.

4. Put Chargers On A Timer

In the case of devices like laptops, most people keep their computers plugged in at all times, meaning that the machine is continuously charging. This is totally unneeded and actually does your computer harm.

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In fact, there is a lot of controversy surrounding how much users should charge their computers before letting the battery drain. All seem to agree, however, that the best thing is to charge the computer to charger-timersomewhere between 80% and 100%, then let it drain as much as possible.

Users can purchase an outlet timer that can be timed based on the user’s schedule to switch on and charge the computer only when the user needs that to happen.

If using a timer saves computer charging of 15 hours, at 100 watts that could add up to annual savings of a pretty massive $54.76 per year.

5. Adjust The Brightness On Your Monitor

brightnessEven something as simple as adjusting the brightness on your computer can save a lot of power. Monitors don’t just use one amount of power because they’re on. Instead, they draw more or less power based on how bright the display is.

The Saving Energy blog deduced that reducing the brightness of a monitor from 100 to 0 shaved off 12 watts of energy. Keep in mind that monitors go from -100 to 100. CRT monitors produced similar results. Even incremental decreases in brightness helped a lot.

Again, while reducing energy brightness won’t make for massive savings, it will play its part, and could mean savings of a few dollars per year.


It’s important to remember that computer energy savings aren’t just about money, but also about the environment. Still, using these energy savings could add up to even $60 or $70 per year, which could end up being a few hundred dollars over a few years.  Shown in the table below is a brief summary of all methods discussed and their expected savings:

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MethodCostDifficultyBenefit (Per Year)
Schedule Shut DownFree4/10Around $25
Computer Energy SettingsFree5/10Around $10
Chargers On Timer$204/10Around $50
Monitor BrightnessFree2/10$2-$10


Which of these methods have you already implemented, or do you plan to implement?  Let us know in the comments below or by starting a new discussion in our community forum.