Know When to Shut Down Your Computer

Posted on May 23 2012 - 1:02pm by Tim Eyre

I’m guilty of wasting energy at home by not turning off my computer when I’m not using it for long stretches. I may go online to look up how long eggs keep after the sell-by date. Or perhaps I’m doing some online banking, shopping for a Mother’s Day gift, or watching funny videos of a dog using the Internet.

Whatever the reason I’m at my computer, I sometimes walk away like it’s a refrigerator that needs to run all the time. And that’s a wasteful habit. So, I’m trying to change!

Guidance on Shutting Down

You may be wondering if it’s not better to leave the computer running instead of using energy to start it up again. Well, that depends. If you’re going to be away from your computer for more than two hours, then you should turn off the computer and the monitor. If you’re going to be away for more than 20 minutes, just turn off the monitor.

Yes, there’s a small surge in electrical use when you turn your computer on and it warms up, but that small surge is nothing compared to leaving your computer on unused for several hours at a time. I’m trying to think of it as leaving the TV on with no one watching. Why would I do that?

Consider an Upgrade

I know some people leave their computers on because they feel it takes too long to shut down and start back up. If your computer takes a long time to start up, then it may be time to consult one of those computer genius types, or invest in a new computer.

Modern humans simply shouldn’t have to wait around for computers to say hello! Plus, upgrading your computer may not only save time, but it can save money. New Energy Star computers and displays can save you up to $150 each year per system.

Allow Power Down

Most computers and monitors sold today have a power-down feature that allows them to use less energy when on, but not in use. This feature may also be referred to as sleep mode.

Even if your computer comes with a sleep mode feature, you may need to give it permission to use the feature. Set it up through your computer’s operating system software. However, using sleep mode is no excuse for not shutting down.

Divorce Your Screen Saver

While you can choose a great desktop background, there’s really no need for screen savers. As it turns out, they don’t save anything! In fact, screen savers may hog more energy than you’d use without one. Also, some screen savers may prevent your computer from going into sleep mode. Using a screen saver on a modern LCD display is like donning a raincoat on a humid and sunny day.

Save More Energy with Power Strips

Your printer, monitor and other computer accessories can use power even when they’re not turned on. That’s certainly sneaky, but you can keep them in check with a power strip/surge protector. When you flip the switch on the power strip, you keep the printer or other office energy suckers from drawing power when they’re not turned on. Alternately, you can simply unplug, but power strips do tend to be handy.

I’m hoping these computer tips will help encourage you, and inspire me, to start saving more energy. Oh, and I won’t leave you hanging: Those eggs can be used up to three to five weeks after you take them home, even if the sell-by date on the egg carton has passed, but do buy them before the sell-by date!

Do you do better remembering these kind of tips for your laptop or desktop computer?   What are other electricity drains in your home or office?

Tim Eyre