Make Your Computer More Energy Efficient

It's easy to forget that computers run on electricity. The more they run, the more electricity they need. And that increases your electric bill. So, managing your computer's energy usage can help you save money.

The obvious solution is to turn the computer off when you're not using it. But many of us leave the computer on to get security updates. Besides, who wants to wait for the computer to boot in order to check e-mail? Fortunately, these apps can help.

Granola (free) - Most computer processors have built-in power-saving features. This program lets you adjust those features on the fly. For example, it scales back processor energy use when the processor isn't busy.

On average, you'll save about 300 kwh per year. What does this mean for your wallet? In most areas, you'll save about $40 annually. And you probably won't even notice that this program is running.

SetPower (free) - This program lets you schedule changes in power plans. So, it only uses as much power as necessary. It's much more refined that Windows' default power management tools.

Just tell the program when you normally use the computer. Get full performance for your morning surfing. But power down or even put your machine to sleep when you go to work. And your computer will be ready to go when you get home. SetPower says you'll save up to $10 per computer each month.

Edison (free) - This is an accurate tool for managing your power usage. It lets you split your time between work and non-work hours. You can then set different parameters for each.

You decide what kind of power savings you want. Set when the display will power down and when the computer sleeps. These settings will only activate when the computer is not in use. Edison will show you your estimated annual savings.

Monitor Off Utility (free) - Laptop monitors drain a lot of battery power. This simple program turns off your laptop monitor on command. You don't need to mess with power-saving settings or even close the lid.

You can assign a shortcut key to activate the program. Or set it to launch automatically on startup. It even has delay options and a screen saver control. This will turn the monitor off after a set period of time or when the screen saver kicks in.

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