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How to Settle your Electronic’s Power Struggle

4 min read

Whether on phones, laptops, full-sized monitors, or tablets, it’s the screen that often consumes the most power. While you can’t always turn the screen off, you can take steps to lower power consumption, and preserve battery life.

Phones usually offer an easy way to control the brightness. If your phone automatically adjusts brightness for you, that may work most of the time. But sometimes you simply don’t need or want a blindingly bright screen, or simply want to override the defaults. On Android-based phones, for example, in Display, you can tap Automatic Brightness to disable or enable that feature. Simpler than that, however, you can adjust to one of four pre-sets. Look at the image at the right, noting the icon on the Notification Bar (bottom right hand corner).

Of course, power consumption isn’t all about the screen.

I hadn’t realized until recently what “phantom” power consumption was. Almost anything that’s plugged in, even if it hasn’t been turned on, draws some amount of power. For instance, the power may be needed to control an internal clock, or to keep it in ‘ready’ state. Many computers will kick in a screen saver after a few minutes, or even shut down the hard drive or the computer after a period of inactivity, but you can do something on your own, quite quickly, to lower power consumption. In many computers, quickly pressing and releasing the power button will put the machine in standby mode. Another thing you can do, and this works especially well with netbooks, notebooks, and laptops, is tweak the power settings. On most Windows-based computers, press the Start button and type “power options”. (Or go to the Control Panel and navigate to this under the Hardware and Sound category.) Your machine will probably be on a “Balanced” plan. Click the link for Change plan settings to see what’s in place. Change what you want in both the On battery and Plugged in categories, then save the changes.

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