Three Ways to Reduce the Power Consumption of Your Computer « Health Now, Wealth Forever

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By Tom, on November 17th, 2011

We’ve talked about making your life greener and more sustainable in various posts. The ideas have ranged from avoiding bottled water to buying solar panels. But, we have never talked about the power your computer uses and what you can do to reduce that load. You can do as little as powering down your computer off when you aren’t using it, or as much as having your computer sleep when you have touched anything for 5 minutes. My preference is somewhere in between those options and I think it will probably work for you.

1. Enable Sleep and Hibernation

Sleep is a low power state where your computer is still on. When you “sleep” your computer, almost everything turns off, but you can return to work within a couple seconds. Hibernation on the other hand, basically saves everything your doing (your session), and turns all the power off. When you turn it back on, it loads what you were doing back up and you are back to work. Sleep is short term power saving and hibernation is longer term power saving.

2. Install Granola

Granola is a free power throttling program (it’s only available on Windows and Linux at the time being). It reduces the amount of power your CPU uses when it isn’t needed. For example, if you are doing some word processing your CPU can use much less power than when you are playing a graphics intensive video game. Granola notices the CPU cycles that are in demand and adjusts the power accordingly. It keeps track of your habits and anticipates the demand so you will probably never notice its affect. Some laptops already use this kind of power management to prolong battery life, Granola allows you to use this at anytime. Granola also allows you to keep track of your power and money savings.

3. Use a Power Strip

When you are not going to use your computer for a while, you should turn it off and unplug it (this power strip will do it for you!). Almost all modern electronic devices use power even when they are off. These are called vampire or phantom loads. A few years ago there was a big news frenzy about how much power is wasted just by cell phone chargers that are left in the plug. The same issues happen with computers. A computer, and pretty much everything that turns on with a push button, is constantly using a trickle of power. If it turns on and off with a switch you can assume that it isn’t using power when it’s off. If I go out of town, or don’t think I’ll want to use my computer for a day or two, I’ll switch off the two power strips I use to power my computer and components.

This is my setup, if you have anymore suggestions on how to save some energy that your computer uses please share in the comments.