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Each week renowned gadget expert Peter Rojas from gadget Q&A site GDGT.com answers your questions about green technology in our Ask A Tech Geek Series. Read on for this week’s installment and submit your questions below!

QUESTION: What are some easy ways to reduce my laptop’s energy consumption?

- submitted by Cliff Champion

PETER ROJAS: There are definitely a few very simple things you can do to reduce your laptop’s energy consumption and extend its battery life. Here are my suggestions:

1. TURN DOWN YOUR SCREEN

Turn down the brightness on your screen. The screen is one of the biggest power hogs on a laptop and reducing the brightness even just a bit will help. Read on for the other 4 super easy tips.

2. CHECK YOUR POWER MANAGEMENT SETTINGS

Adjust your power management settings. This will vary depending on whether you use a Mac or a PC. In Macs you’ll see a handful of options under Energy Saver in System Preferences – click “Energy Saver”. You can set your computer to sleep or dim the screen after a short period of time, as well as chose to put the hard disk to sleep whenever possible. All of these will help preserve your battery life. In Windows go to your Control Panel and select “Power Options”. You’ll be able to select different power plans here, pick the one that says “Power saver” – it’ll optimize your laptop for battery life over performance.

3. AVOID OVER-DOING PROCESSOR-INTENSIVE TASKS

Don’t do anything processor intensive. Avoid doing anything that requires your laptop’s processor to work overtime, like editing or rendering video, playing games with fancy graphics, or watching HD video.

2. BE JUCIDICIOUS WITH YOUR WIFI

Switch off WiFi when you’re not using it. Obviously if you need to be online there isn’t much you can do, but getting into the habit of turning off WiFi (or 3G if you have a 3G modem in your laptop) whenever you don’t actually need to be connected will make a difference.

5. DISABLE FLASH

Disable Flash in your browser. Flash can be very processor intensive, and while this is more of an issue for phones and tablets, using a Flash block plug-in or extension for your browser will help minimize its impact.

From simply changing one setting on your computer to turning off unnecessary programs and WiFi when you don’t need them, these 5 easy pointers should help you make your laptop a lot more energy efficient. And considering that billions of people in the world use their computers on a daily basis, think of the difference it would make if we all followed these tips.

WANT TO ASK A TECH GEEK? Do you have a green technology question you’d like to ask Peter? Submit it to him by leaving a comment on this post or tweeting it to @Inhabitat and/or @peterrojas with the hashtag #AskATechGeek!

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10 Comments

  1. joseph.agg33 July 10, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    The screen on most computers draws at least 50% of the power used…So, as Mr. Rojas said, turning down the brightness really helps with overall battery life and energy consumption.
    I always use the lowest brightness possible when indoors, and since my eyes are adjusted to lower brightness, I don’t notice any difference. Also, if you get eye fatigue after using your computer for some time, try turning down the brightness to help. Technically you are looking at a light source and this tends to fatigue the eyes.

  2. Kestrel Jenkins Kestrel Jenkins July 8, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    This is really helpful — definitely important things to think about to keep that battery charged longer!

  3. Cliff Champion Cliff Champion July 8, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Thanks so much! I’ve been wondering about this for a while. I had no clue that my laptop usage was so inefficient…

  4. Jessica Dailey Jessica Dailey July 8, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    Reducing screen brightness saves so much power on my MacBook. In fact, I’ve gotten so used to a dimmer screen that it drives me crazy when people have theirs on full brightness!

  5. Mike Chino Mike Chino July 8, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    These are great tips! Apparently WiFi does consume a significant amount of energy, so researchers are working on energy management software that could make it much more efficient – more here: http://inhabitat.com/new-wi-fi-technology-could-double-the-battery-life-of-cell-phones-and-laptops/

  6. Yuka Yoneda Yuka Yoneda July 8, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    I think the power saver is a great tip. You hardly notice any difference in performance so it’s a no brainer.

  7. Andrew Michler Andrew Michler July 8, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    I never cared for Flash but never realized it was sucking my battery so much.

  8. nicoleabene July 8, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    I would have never thought of this stuff on my own! Thanks!

  9. Diane Pham Diane Pham July 8, 2011 at 11:56 am

    great tips, particularly about the screen. it’s definitely a major draw, but even at a seemingly low setting your eyes adjust quickly enough to manage the change.

  10. JasminMC July 8, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Thanks for those tips; I’ll have to tell my husband that bit about playing games ;)

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