Is Your Home Computer an Energy Thief?

Practically everyone has a home computer these days, yet many people may not be aware of all the things they can do to not only extend the useful life of their devices but also help to contribute to power conservation on a much larger scale.

If you wonder whether you should turn off your personal computer for energy savings, here are some general guidelines from the U.S. Department of Energy to help you make that decision:

Though there is a small surge in energy when a computer starts up, this small amount is still less than the energy used when a computer is running for long periods of time. The idea that a computer should never be turned off and instead switched to standby mode is totally 1990s. In fact, turning off your computer and monitor when you don’t plan to use them for longer periods of time not only saves energy but can extend their lives.


For energy savings and convenience, consider the following guidelines:

  • Turn off the monitor if you aren’t going to use your PC for more than 20 minutes.
  • Turn off both the CPU and monitor if you’re not going to use your PC for more than 2 hours.

Make sure your monitors, printers and other accessories are on a power strip/surge protector. When this equipment is not planned to be in use for extended periods, turn off the switch on the power strip to prevent them from drawing power even when shut off. If you don’t use a power strip, unplug extra equipment when it’s not in use.

The idea of a computer getting worn out prematurely from being turned off and on too much is just a myth these days. In truth, most PCs reach the end of their “useful” life due to advances in technology long before the effects of being switched on and off multiple times can have a negative impact on their service life. Furthermore, the less time a PC is on, the longer it will last. PCs produce heat, so turning them off reduces building cooling loads and can help to extend their lives.

Sleep Mode and Power Management Features

Many computers available today come with a sleep mode or power management feature. ENERGY STAR® estimates that using these features will save you up to $30 each year on your electricity bills. Make sure you have the power-down feature set up on your PC through your operating system software. This has to be done by you; the power management features usually are not already enabled when a computer is purchased. Here’s how to activate the power management features on your computer.

$30 may not sound like a ton of savings, but multiply that amount by the estimated 88% to 90% computer usage in U.S. households today, and you’re not only getting a nice little deduction on your electricity bill, you’re also helping to contribute to a considerable reduction of power consumption nationally — and the ways that the power is manufactured.

ENERGY STAR monitors consume 2 watts or less in sleep mode. Follow the instructions for your particular model to ensure power management features are enabled so your monitor will automatically go into sleep mode after a period of inactivity. You can save even more by manually turning off your monitor when you’re not using it; ENERGY STAR qualified monitors consume one watt or less when off.

NOTE: screen savers are not energy savers. Using a screen saver may in fact use more energy than not using one, and the power-down feature may not work if you have a screen saver activated. In fact, modern LCD color monitors do not need screen savers at all, and you’ll just end up with unnecessary power consumption.

Contact All Star Electric for All Your Electrical Needs

We invite you to join our list of satisfied customers. We’re an Angie’s List Super Service award-winner, and we strive to deliver the highest quality electrical service available in San Antonio. We handle both residential and commercial electrical work. Call us at (210) 391-0274.