Stay Green – Switch off Your Monitor!

January 19, 2011, By Christian Cawley

Everyone wants us to be greener, from environmentalists to the very power generation companies that generate much of the pollution for which domestic and corporate users are responsible for.

Windows 7 already comes with various power management options that can allow you to specify when the monitor switches off, when the hard disk drive switches off and even how your PC behaves when the power button is pressed.

However there are other things you can do, particularly with regards to the management of your monitor. Whether you’re still running an old CRT monitor or a new TFT/LCD display, these devices can churn up quite a few dollars of electricity if left on when you’re away from your PC. Whether you set your display to be switched off when the PC is idle or not, there still needs to be a delay, a set “idle time” and this usually needs to be quite long to guarantee you’re away from your desk and not on the phone.

Windows 7 display power management options

Switch Off Your Monitor with a Keystroke

One way to switch off your monitor(s) with the minimum of fuss is with PushMonitOff, a free tool available from www.donationcoder.com. With this tool running, all you need to do is press Shift+F1 to switch off your monitors, thus saving energy. Meanwhile for a more personal approach to turning off your monitor, use the MonitOff tool from the same website. This utility is also concerned with reducing the power consumption of your desktop display, but this time offers user defined times in which to do so.

Power Saving with Command Line Tools

Windows 7 users can take advantage of a set of command line tools for managing various power management aspects on their computer using the NirCmd utility.

NirCmd can be downloaded from www.nirsoft.net/utils/nircmd.html (scroll to the end of the page for the download link) and offers a few useful options that can be used for power management purposes.

For instance the monitor can be disabled with the command:

nircmd.exe monitor off

You might also activate standby mode with:

nircmd.exe standby

While you’re adjusting the display settings you might use this to resize your display:

nircmd.exe setdisplay 800 600 24

Meanwhile this command will disable the screensaver; change the final 0 to a 1 to enable the screensaver:

nircmd.exe regsetval sz "HKCU\control panel\desktop" "ScreenSaveActive" 1

These commands all require nircmd.exe to be present on your PC or laptop – once you have downloaded it from the link above, extract the file to your Windows folder (typically C:\Windows) and use the Windows command line (Start > Search > cmd) to input the commands.

Basic Computer Power Management

If you have concerns about how much power your computer is using then you should consider being more hands on about the whole power-management issue. As useful as the built-in Windows power management tools are, they can only do so much.

For instance switching your PC off when it is not in use will save a lot of money; if you’re the sort of person that leaves their computer on overnight then you could be chucking away at least $200 (and a lot more in the UK).

Also, make sure that your PC itself is efficient, that the interior is dust free and has plenty of airflow, that the power supply unit is efficient (if not replace it) and that the power cables are up to the job.

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