8 energy saving tips for your portable devices

In time for Earth Day this weekend, here are 8 energy saving tips your laptop, tablet or smartphone.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/southernpixel/Sunday, 22 April is Earth Day; a day when we are supposed to appreciate and increase awareness of the Earth’s natural environment. Recognizing the impact of computing devices on the environment, particularly carbon emissions, and in our way, to commemorate Earth Day, here are 8 tips to save energy when using your laptop, tablet or smartphone.

1.  Use the battery. This tip is more applicable to laptops. Far too frequently, many of us do not make use of our laptops’ battery: we do not unplug it from the mains regularly, and operate it using the battery supply only. In addition to not getting the full benefit of having a truly portable device, laptops can lose their charging ability. Although this might be inevitable with age, it also occurs when the battery capability is not habitually exercised.

2.  Activate power saving mode. All modern portable devices tend to have a power management option, which if selected aims to provide to balance performance and energy consumption. Although power management can be employed when devices are connected to the electric supply, it is especially valuable when battery power is being used, and can significantly increase the mileage you can get out of a single charge.

3.  Shut down unused/dormant applications. In a number of cases, although you might have closed an application, it may still be running in the background, hence consuming some of your device’s computing resources. These unused or dormant applications can be manually shut down, usually via a Task Manager or utility programme, which will prolong your battery life.

4.  Turn of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS when not in use. When a device’s Wi-Fi has been switched on, it is continually emitting signals to confirm connectivity. The same occurs with Bluetooth and your device’s GPS are activated. Any one of these features can seriously deplete your battery. If you are not actively using your device’s Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection, or have no pressing need for the GPS to be on, turn them off when not required.

5.  Switch data sync to manual. Smartphones and tablets in particular are frequently configured to synchronise regularly with data stored on another device, or even to the cloud. Typically, the system default is for data sync to be automatically performed by the device, or is done at very regularly intervals. Unless it is absolutely critical for your business or lifestyle, it might not be necessary to configure your device to automatically sync – which could occur several times per day. An energy saving measure would be switch to manual sync, which can be implemented as or when necessary.

6.  Reduce screen brightness. The default brightness setting for you laptop’s, tablet’s or phone’s display screen is often set quite high. It might not be necessary, but also consumes relatively large amounts of energy. However, significant energy savings can be realised if the screen brightness is reduced. In many instances, when you have adjusted the setting, there might not be a discernable loss in perceived brightness of the screen, but less power should be consumed.

7.  Reduce screen timeout time. Typically, when modern electronic devices are not being actively used, they transition into a dormant or standby mode, which is usually signalled by the screen going dark or the display going to sleep on our laptop, tablet or phone. During the lag between your device not being used and the screen goes dark, energy is still being consumed, and if on battery power, it is still being depleted. More importantly, the display screen is usually one of the largest consumers of energy in a portable computing devices, hence the shorter its idle period – by reducing the screen timeout time – battery life can be prolonged and power savings can be realised.

8.  Switch off phone when opportunity arises. Although this suggestion might cause some of us hyperventilate or go into a catatonic state, there are truly times when you do not need to have your laptop, tablet or phone on, or more so, should not have them on. For example, during an important meeting, while on aircrafts, at the doctor’s office or hospital, where you ought not be using such devices, they can be switched off. Messages and voicemail can retrieved at a later time, and during that time energy can be saved.

BONUS:  Unplug charger. Although this point is not exactly an energy saving tip for your portable devices, it could save you electricity. Some of us leave our chargers plugged, even when there is nothing being charged. Electricity is still being consumed, so unplug the charger when not in use.

 Let us do what we can, in some small way, to save energy and our planet!!

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Image courtesy of Southernpixel Alby, flickr

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1 Comment

  • With regard to laptop batteries, as I understand, temperature can have a bad effect on them. The greater the exposure to high temperature the battery is, the more susceptible it is to lose effect.

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