Watching the life drain from your laptop when you’re on the move is stressful. Sure, there are extended and slice batteries for a variety of machines, and portable laptop battery packs are available from companies such as Duracell and Lind Electronics. But those options can mean carrying more bulk in a bag already bogged down with cords, files and accessories. One surefire way to preserve the battery you do have is to follow these 11 tips.
Your screen backlight uses the most power of any component in your notebook, so you can save a lot of juice by turning it down to the lowest acceptable level. You can manually raise and lower the brightness in increments of 10 percent by hitting the appropriate key combination for your laptop (example: Fn + left/right arrows on the Acer Aspire TimelineX series), but we recommend changing the brightness in your power profile so it lowers automatically every time you unplug.
To lower the brightness level in your power profile:
Your virus scanner and disk defragmenter, along with auto updates from the likes of Apple and Google, are scheduled to run themselves on a regular basis—often without your knowledge or consent. Set these tasks to run only on AC power so they don’t eat up precious juice running your hard drive, CPU and wireless while you’re unplugged.
If your notebook has a backlit keyboard, it will certainly help you see keys in a dark room, but it’s also sucking juice out of your battery. You’ll save some power by turning off that light. Every notebook has its own way of enabling or disabling its keyboard backlight, but the method usually involves hitting a Function key on the top row of the keyboard.
Every USB peripheral attached to your notebook is eating up power just by registering itself with the operating system. By the same token, CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays can drain battery life, even when they’re just sitting idle in your optical drive. Remove any discs along with USB keys, card readers, modems or other peripherals you don’t need while on battery power.
The LED-backlit screens used on most modern notebooks expend less energy displaying black pixels than those showing colors. Setting your computer to show white and yellow text on a black background can improve battery life and even make text more readable when sunlight is hitting your screen.
To enable High-Contrast mode in Windows 7, simply hit the key combination Left Shift + Left Alt + Print Screen and click Yes when asked to confirm. You can turn off High-Contrast mode by hitting the same combo.
High-Contrast mode will affect your desktop and most Windows programs, including the latest versions of Internet Explorer and Firefox. However, if you use the Chrome browser, you will need to install the Change Colors extension, which is available for free from the Chrome Web Store. Once the extension is installed, it will show an icon in the right side of your address bar. Click that icon and select “Apply override on all pages” to enable high-contrast mode.
While you’re surfing the Web, checking email or watching a movie, messaging apps such as Google Talk and Skype are hitting the Internet constantly, just to see which of your contacts are online and whether you’ve received any messages. Automatic updating apps from the likes of Adobe, Apple and Google may also be pinging the Internet to see if there are updates to your copies of Adobe Reader, Chrome browser or iTunes. To stop these silent power vampires before they start, prevent them from loading at boot time.
To see and disable programs from starting when your computer starts: