PC and laptop: how can I reduce power consumption?

Depending on how it is used and the hardware installed, the PC can be one of the biggest power guzzlers in the home.

PC and laptop: how can I reduce power consumption?

Depending on how it is used and the hardware installed, the PC can be one of the biggest power guzzlers in the home. For example, anyone who plays complex games usually has a significantly higher consumption than their neighbors who use their device purely for work or only occasionally for surfing the net. In times of high energy costs, however, there are also a few tips for consumers on how they can still save.

Basically, different applications require different amounts of power. A word processing program like Microsoft Word makes do with significantly fewer resources than, for example, a complex video game. On the other hand, the components installed in a PC consume different amounts of electricity. So if you only use less computationally intensive programs, you don't need a high-end PC either.

An office PC intended for work often only has a so-called onboard graphics card. This is a chip that is located on the mainboard and is therefore on board, so to speak. With real gaming PCs, on the other hand, additional graphics cards are used, which are much more powerful, but also consume significantly more power.

The installed processors also consume different amounts of power. Gamers rely on more powerful models with more cores. Other components, such as the hard drive used, also require power. A modern SSD often works more efficiently and faster than an HDD, but it is also more expensive to buy. Suppliers of the individual hardware components, such as graphics cards, usually list the relevant information on the power requirements on their websites.

The built-in power supply provides the power for all components. This must provide sufficient power and have enough connections for the PC to run. However, consumers should also compare here and pay attention to the degree of efficiency. The higher this is, the more effectively the power supply works and the less energy is lost during operation. The "80 Plus" initiative aims to promote high-efficiency power supplies and offers multiple certifications. For a certification, a power supply must have an efficiency of at least 80 percent, in further gradations the requirements are even higher.

With comparable use to a desktop PC, a laptop is often more energy-efficient and can therefore be a good alternative. Although every PC and laptop differs in their consumption, according to the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection, a desktop PC with basic equipment used for four hours a day consumes an average of up to 87 kWh of electricity a year. A corresponding laptop with the same use, on the other hand, is only 22 kWh per year. The ministry also lists other examples on its website.

There are also several ways to save power on laptops and PCs. In the Task Manager, under "Processes", all the programs that are currently running are listed. Here, power guzzlers can be identified and stopped immediately. In addition, functions that are currently not required can be deactivated. If, for example, you don't currently need Internet access or Bluetooth on your laptop, you can switch off both temporarily. And does the screen really have to be set that bright? Less brightness means saved electricity.

In general, the laptop or PC should not be running when it is not needed. For example, if you leave your desk more often, but don't always want to shut down the computer, you can at least use the energy-saving functions of Windows. In the settings, under the "System" sub-item, you can specify that the screen is switched off automatically after a certain period of time or that the PC is put into hibernation if it is not used for 30 minutes, for example.

If a PC is not needed for a long time, it is also worth pulling the plug (also from peripheral devices such as printers or monitors) or using a socket strip with a switch. "Assuming that your computer, together with the screen and devices such as a printer, requires 20 watts when it is switched off and is not in operation for 20 hours a day, then that adds up to annual electricity costs of around 42 euros," says the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy climate protection.

Consumers can also save money if, for example, they disconnect the router from the power supply at night. But then the Internet access no longer works - and therefore also not the WLAN for the laptop or smartphone.