Energy Efficient Home Computing

February 16, 2011, By Christian Cawley

With fuel bills increasing and constant monitoring of our carbon footprints, the requirements for power management are ever more important. While switching a PC and monitor off when not in use is easily done, it isn’t always as simple as that.

Most laptop computers use low-energy processors designed to offer the maximum battery life by running as efficiently as possible; more and more desktop systems are becoming more efficient too, but this is a more difficult goal to achieve.

While periodic cleaning of the interior of a desktop PC can assist with its power use and efficiency, at times you might also require additional software.

Let’s take a look at three ways in which you can make your desktop PC more energy efficient.

Energy effiecient home computing

Clean Your PC

The one everyone misses out on is cleaning the interior of a desktop PC. As computers are electrical goods, they are literally magnets for dust. As dust enters the interior it forms mass, making the natural cooling of the system (as designed by the positioning of fans and vents) a slower process. As temperatures increase within the computer, the CPU becomes tougher to cool; as the CPU temperature increases, efficiency decreases.

Cleaning the interior of a PC is simple with some basic know-how. All you need to do is disconnect the device from the mains, remove the side of the case facing the CPU and then with a can of compressed air blow the dust out of the vents where you can clean it up later. You don’t even need to touch the computer’s interior, although if you do ensure that you are suitably attired for anti-static contact.

Pay particular attention to the CPU fan and power supply unit air intakes, as well as the case fans. Most other dust should be easily dislodged.

Take Advantage of Windows Shut Down Options

Another oft-forgotten method of saving power is by using the hibernate function in Windows 7 (also in Windows Vista). This option saves your current activity to the hard disk drive, allowing you to quickly resume work and therefore reducing the shutdown and start up time.

To use the Hibernate feature, go to Start > Control Panel > System and Security > Power Options > Change what the power buttons do and select Hibernate under Power button settings.

Click Save changes to apply this – next time you press the power button on your PC, the system will hibernate rather than shut down!

Power Profiles and SmartPower

Finally you can configure power plan profiles for specifying when the computer is put to sleep and when the display should be turned off. In addition to this, you can use additional utilities such as SmartPower, available from

Once downloaded and installed you can launch this tool from Start > Programs > SmartPower > SmartPower Configuration. Click Yes to start the SmartPower service which will run in the background of your PC, and then configure as required, adjusting settings under which the utility should ensure the computer stays on or hibernates.

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