11 Ways to Increase Your Windows 7 Laptop’s Battery Life

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.

1. Lower your screen brightness.

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:

  • Select Power Options from the control panel.
  • Click Change Plan Settings next to your current power plan.
  • Select “Change advanced power settings.”
  • Expand Display, then Display brightness.
  • Enter a brightness percentage for On Battery, then Click OK.
  • Experiment with different brightness levels to determine which is the lowest you can tolerate.

2. Prevent scheduled tasks from running on battery power.

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.

  • Select Administrative Tools > Task Scheduler in the Control Panel.
  • Select Task Scheduler (Local) in the left window pane.
  • Go through each active task that has a future date in the Next Run Time column and do the following:
    • Double-click the task.
    • Select the Conditions tab.
    • Toggle on the first two power options: “Start the task only if the computer is on AC power” and “Stop if the computer switches to battery power” if they are not already checked.
    • Click the back button to return to the list of active tasks.

3. Turn off backlit keyboards.

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.

4. Unplug all USB devices and remove all discs.

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.

5. Turn on High-Contrast mode.

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.

6. Close messaging software and apps that ping the Internet in the background.

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:

  • Type msconfig into the Start Menu text field, and click msconfig.
  • Select the Startup tab.
  • Uncheck messaging programs such as AOL Instant Messenger, Gtalk and Skype. You can always launch them manually if you want to use them.
  • Uncheck autoupdaters such as Adobe Update, Apple Update, Google Update and Java Autoupdater.
  • Click OK.


Top Windows 7 Battery Savers

Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of Laptopmag.com since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.
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Submit Comments

  1. Andy Says:

    The LED backlights in most notebook “LED” displays use the same amount of power no matter what is shown on screen. Displaying greater areas of black on the display only “blocks” the light emitted from the backlight, the backlight intensity isn’t reduced in most cases. If anything, for a TN LCD panel to display black, you need to apply voltage to the crystals so displaying black on a LCD actually uses more power than displaying white. You can google this.

    Only emissive display technology such as Plasma, CRT or AMOLED use less power the more areas of black is displayed on the screen.

    Perhaps you could try a battery life test to see for yourself if “high contrast mode” actually makes any noticeable difference?

    Andy :)

  2. theo Says:

    Google Chrome’s frequent updates are actually needed.. Is there a way to do this manually after disabling the googleupdate service?

  3. ashley Says:

    can someone please tell me how i can disable it ? its not that i dont like it .
    its just i didn’t mean to get it on purpose can someone please help !

  4. Rose Says:

    We can also upgrade system’s RAM as system needs not to rely on virtual memory and we can save a good chunk of power.

  5. Andy You Are Wrong Says:

    Andy, you are wrong. I tested it out myself, I made a white picture that fit my entire screen, then I left it on the screen for 5 minutes, when I came back, the battery life expectancy was very low. When I used a black screen, keep in mind this is all in full brightness, the black screen increased the battery life.

  6. Acma Tech Says:

    One point I like to add in above article is – Dont put your laptop on sleep mode if you are not working fro 3-4 hours. By this way battery will save and will last long.

  7. Noah G Says:

    Turn off superfetch, too. This can cause disk thrashing and thus use more energy

  8. Diamond Says:

    I really like this, thanks. My laptop is one of those that doesn’t keep a charge for long. And this isn’t a good thing when I have to charge it in the middle of class. I also had one other question. Will having the computer being plugged in while running reduce the battery life?

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