Reduce Computer Energy Use

Reader Contribution by Peyton Baldwin

Almost everyone uses a computer these days. But not everyone knows how much energy is consumed by that one device. Most appliances or electronics tell you the number of watts they use. An average CPU uses 120 watts, while the monitor uses 150 watts. That’s 270 watts of power while in use, but there are several easy ways to reduce that amount.

Simply turning on the ‘sleep mode,’ which is found on most computers, can reduce the energy used to 60 total watts. The Department of Energy (DOE) says an Energy Star computer can reduce electricity consumption by about 70 percent when in ‘sleep mode.’ Energy Star computers will consume 15 watts or less power.

Other simple ways you can save electricity include:

  • Turning off your monitor when it’s not being used for more than 20 minutes
  • Turning off your monitor and CPU when they’re not being used for more than 2 hours
  • Turning on the power management system that is built into most computers
  • Using a power strip so all devices can be turned off and not pull unnecessary power while not turned on

DOE also notes that screen savers actually take more power than regular screens so they are not an efficient use of energy. Another misconception is that it’s bad to turn your computer off everyday. DOE says this is untrue and turning them off will save energy without harming the computer.

There are other products that can help control the energy-efficiency of your computer. offers a CO2Saver application that automatically applies energy-saving settings to your computer. The program also tracks how much CO2 emissions have been reduced as a result of changing those settings. The CO2Saver is only available for Windows XP or Vista. It can be downloaded at

Another product that can automatically control energy use is the SmartStrip. It is a combination of a surge protector, power strip and energy measurer in one. The SmartStrip monitors when computers, monitors or printers are off and stops power from being sent to those devices.

If you want to save even more energy, consider making your next computer purchase a laptop. Most laptops only consume about 50 watts of power.

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