Tag Archives: power

How to Save Energy With Your Computers

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FlavioGomes asked the Lockergnome community how we can save money and energy with our computers. He has to leave his machines on all day, and he claims that it makes a big difference in his electricity bill each month. He’s hoping to find a way to cut that down, without having to turn off his machines. Any advice or tips you have will certainly be appreciated!

Generally speaking, the best way to save money is to not use your computer. If you are using it, you may not want to use it to its full potential. Notebooks have certain features which can keep the processor cool and clean, unless it needs to do something processor-intensive (such as video editing). The things you’re doing can save you money.

If you’re going to be away from your machine, you might think about turning off the screen. That can save you money without having to turn off the computer. You could also put the machine into hibernation or even shutting it down entirely. I know it’s a pain to have to wake the computer back up or power it up. However, you have to weigh the pros and cons. Do you want to spend a moment or two powering back up… or do you want to pay more each month on your electricity bill?

Turn off peripherals when you aren’t using them… especially laser printers. Those suckers eat up a lot of juice when they’re just sitting there.

If you have any other money-saving tips, please pass them along to the community – either here on the blog, or in the original thread on Lockergnome.

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When Do You Power Down Your Laptop?

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One caller to the live show the other night wondered if it’s a good idea to turn off your laptop when you are finished using it. Many people simply let the machine go into sleep mode or flip it to a screensaver.

When I am done using mine, I tend to turn it off completely if I know I won’t be using it again soon. If I’m traveling and using it often, I let it go to sleep and just get a bit of rest until I need it again. It doesn’t hurt anything to let it sleep for awhile, but I don’t recommend doing it for long periods of time.

Despite the advances in power-saving technologies, it’s better to turn off (and unplug) a device when not in use for awhile. Sometimes, it all adds up when your power bill shows up.

It’s interesting that this question was asked the day that it was. Just that day, a new service from Microsoft popped up on my radar. Microsoft Hohm can help you save money on your energy bill. After you register (for free) and answer several questions, the site will make recommendations based on your answers.

Sadly, I am the Griswold of my neighborhood. I use entirely too much power. I can’t help it! I love my gadgets, gizmos and electronics. It’s an addiction, and I don’t want a 12-step program. I will proudly stand up at the block party and yell “Let there be light!” You don’t think my neighbors will hate me too much, do you?

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Targus Premium Laptop Power Review

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I really hate cables. I like what cables can do for me – bringing power to my devices. I don’t like looking at them all day long. That is why I keep them tucked away out of sight. I was disappointed when I got my iPad recently, because it needs 10 watts of power to charge. My then-current Macbook Pro didn’t support that much output, so I had to charge through a regular electrical outlet. Thankfully, Targus sent me their Premium Laptop Power system to review.

This charger is literally about half the size and weight of a normal charger, and it’s about the size of a Blackberry phone. This makes it perfect for traveling and portability. It comes with 9 laptop tips, a mini-USB tip for cell phones or cameras and an iPod/iPhone/iPad tip. This makes it seriously versatile, and even allows you to charge two different devices at once. It is powerful enough to charge your laptop AND your phone at the same time.

You know how you plug a large charger into a power strip and it then blocks one (or more) of the other empty slots? This annoys me to no end. With this particular charger, though, you won’t have that issue anymore. The prongs rotate 180 degrees, making it easy for you to adjust it to best fit your needs.

The charger includes a portable auto adapter so that you can charge up your devices as you motor to your next destination.

I haven’t had the pleasure of using a charger that is better than this one. It’s powerful enough to do what I need it to do. It’s small enough to carry with me wherever I need to go. And – it actually looks good! How often am I able to say that about a device such as this? You know I’m all about having my gadgets look right in my office.

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How to Save Electricity

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If a device is plugged into the wall, it’s using electricity. Even if it’s not turned on, it’s still draining your wallet by running up your power bill. You may want to look into a device that can help you cut that bill down, and save on your energy usage! There’s a way to do it easily by using TrickleStar’s devices.

Using either the TV TrickleSaver or the PC TrickleSaver, you can cut your energy consumption quite a lot. Using them reduces the standby electricity used by devices. There’s a built-in relay that switches off devices that consume standby current.

The TrickleStar TV TrickleSaver reduces the standby energy consumed by TV accessories. The product has inbuilt current sensing circuitry to sense when a TV is on or Off. When the TV is on the product will switch On all peripheral devices. Conversely when the TV is Off, the product will switch Off all accessories.

Conversely, the TrickleStar PC TrickleSaver reduces the standby energy consumed by PC Peripheral equipment. The product connects to a PC via a standard USB connector and detects the power status of a PC via the USB port. When a PC is powered up, the product will switch on all peripheral devices. When a PC is switched off, the product will switch off all peripheral devices.

Why not make the Earth a friendlier place by cutting down on the amount of electricity you use? Heck… you’re saving yourself money as well, so you really have no excuse!

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How Much is Electricity Costing You?

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Elektronova is a company that presented at Live Pitch 2008 in Seattle recently. Elektronova is dedicated to helping consumers monitor their electrical consumption. This will not only allow people to save money. It will also help promote a more energy-efficient lifestyle.


  • Business Category: Tech Startup
  • Founder: Lawrence Winnerman and Kaley Davis
  • Inspiration for Product/Service: We were interested in the renewable energy space, but quickly realized that the first step… consumption awareness and reduction… is something that there is virtually no information on. The idea for Elektronova quickly followed out of that core realization.
  • Target Customer/Audience: Everyone who uses electricity, and is interested in saving money by reducing their electricity consumption.
  • Synopsis of Product / Service: We are creating small, networked devices that plug in between any electrical appliance and the wall socket. The data is aggregated by a master unit, and sent to our servers. Consumers can then view their electricity consumption, set reduction goals, and view tips and tricks on how to save both energy and money.
  • Main Company Contact: Lawrence Winnerman

What do you think about this business idea? Leave your thoughts!

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How to Save Energy

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The cost of energy these days is outrageous. Many of us cut corners wherever and whenever we can. Ryan_Leaf sent in some excellent tips to help all of us conserve energy. How many of these do you already do?

  • See how much power you are consuming You have to start somewhere, and by knowing how much everything consumes you can tell what you might want to remove or replace. You can use something like the Kill A Watt, which will display how much power you are consuming. Take a pencil and paper, and write down what you’re testing, and how much it draws. I was told that the “VA” mode gives the actual amount of energy that you are paying for. If you forget to hit the “VA” button on the Kill A Watt, and don’t want to redo the whole process again, plug it back in and hit the “PF”, or “power factor” button and then use the formula ‘Watts / PF = VA’.
  • Adjust your computer’s settings This is a simple and free way to cut back on consumption. In Windows, you can set the monitors and hard drives to turn off after a certain length of time. However, if you set it to four hours before they turn off it is almost pointless. Set it to around 30 minutes. Windows also allows you to put your computer into Stand-By or Hibernate mode. Consider telling it to put the computer to Stand-By mode after approximately 45 minutes to an hour. If you are working on something at night and don’t want to re-open all of your work when you return, enable Hibernate mode and ‘hibernate’ it overnight. This draws no power at all, so it’s optimal if you’re going to be away from your computer for any length of time.
  • Turn it off Do you really need to have the television on while you listen to music? Is it necessary to leave your computer on overnight, idle? By turning off items you’re not using, you can conserve a lot of power. Consider plugging items into a power-strip or surge protector if you don’t already. Many televisions and other consumer electronics still draw a considerable amount of power when they are ‘off’. By turning off the power-strip you stop it from drawing power completely.
  • Try to replace the biggest consumers If you still have a CRT on your desk, replace it with an LCD. Not only will this improve the clarity of the screen, but it also will draw much less power for the relative screen size. In addition, if you still are using incandescent lightbulbs, replace them with compact florescent bulbs. Also, if you have an older computer that draws a lot of power, consider replacing it with a newer, more energy-efficient one. New computers not only improve performance, but many, if not all, include better power-saving features. I personally switched to a Mac Mini recently, and was shocked it only drew 23 watts on the desktop, and 1 watt in ‘sleep’ mode.


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Wireless Power

Is it just me, or is this invention a game changer?

It may sound futuristic, but Powercast’s platform uses nothing more complex than a radio–and is cheap enough for just about any company to incorporate into a product. A transmitter plugs into the wall, and a dime-size receiver (the real innovation, costing about $5 to make) can be embedded into any low-voltage device. The receiver turns radio waves into DC electricity, recharging the device’s battery at a distance of up to 3 feet.

Fewer wires? Fewer proprietary power cables? Fewer batteries? Fewer headaches? OMG. Finally, a piece of technology that nobody will be able to live without.

Actually, even though I’m looking at this link today (March 30th) – the page title is “Powercast’s technology cuts the electric cord – April 1, 2007.” Is this an AFD joke that was published before AFD?

Cutting Cable and Cord Clutter

My latest CPU Magazine article is out: The Power Of Power.

I recently moved into a new house in the Seattle area. Moving is anything but fun, especially when it happens to coincide with the same time frame as your wedding/honeymoon. Well, the movers we selected did an absolutely rotten job at packing our stuff. Cords were separated from their respective devices, and I’ll be damned if I know which ones match up. Some manufacturers were nice enough to stamp their name and the corresponding device onto the power supply and cord, while others were completely generic and without labels. Am I really to blame for this mess?

It’s a trend that must be reversed. CPUser “Randy” had a comment that deserved to be seen, if only by the hardware hackers of the galaxy:

While I agree that there should be some form of standard, when dealing with power adapters. There is one very significant point. There are many devices out there. Each one, usually for good reason, is designed to charge and/or run on a given voltage/amperage. The reason for not having extra circuitry, with which to convert some incoming standard towards something that will work with the needed circuitry, is that this “circuit” would require a certain given space. In today’s world, every consumer wants more of everything fit into a device except that they want it to be smaller. If you could design a tiny circuit, say .1 to .3 mm cubed, that could convert some universal standard, say standard home 115VAC and automotive ~12VDC to whatever we need to run the circuitry. Let us know. It would be greatly appreciated.

So is such a thing possible? What say you, power people? I promise to give ‘er a good “plug” or two. Pun intended.