9 tips to extend your laptop battery life

With so many people turning into Road/Starbucks/Carpark/Regus/Airport warriors these days – getting the most from your laptop battery is an important subject. With the Apple folks now producing Macs without replaceable batteries, we all need to be mastering the art of battery savings.

There are a number of pointers below to help you in your quest…

1) The single biggest power drain on battery life is the screen brightness – so whatever you are doing, ensure your power settings reduce this to a minimum or manually set the screen brightness to its lowest possible setting. If you do this – you will improve the battery life by a huge amount. It’s quite a revelation the first time it happens.

2) Monitor your laptop battery life more efficiently by installing BattCursor. It does what it says on the tin and the program displays your laptop’s battery level directly below your mouse pointer. It also warns you when you battery gets low by changing the colour of the window borders.

3) Check your power settings are set correctly (VISTA) by going to Control Panel>Power Options. It could well be a setting you’ve never seen before. Visit it now and experiment with what works for you.

4) When you are travelling by airplane the first thing you should do is to turn off any bluetooth or wireless devices (because it’s safe!) but also because it will conserve power. That also applies when you are working and are happy to be offline… reach for the wireless switch which is often coupled with bluetooth.

5) Vista Battery saver disables any Vista features that might consume power unnecessarily when you’re running low on battery. It re-enables them when you connect back to the mains supply.

6) Press CTRL-ALT-ESCAPE and see which processes or programs are running which you don’t need. If you are working on a Word document for example – shut down all other applications including your email. This will ensure less disc spin and that CPU power usage is kept to a minimum.

7) BatteryCare is a handy app which monitors your battery’s discharge cycles and automatically switches powerplans as required. It also provides information on your battery including its ‘wear level’… a measure of its health.

8.) In the longer term – keeping your laptop in a cool place (not in a hot car or leaving it in the sun) and operating it at room temperature will all improve its performance.

9) Do you know the difference between Hibernate and standby? Putting a laptop in standby mode does save some power and you can instantly resume where you left off. Hibernating a PC will actually save your PC’s state as it is, and completely shut itself down effectively turning it off.

The problem is, Hibernation mode can be hidden away for some unexplainable Windows reason. To access it, (VISTA) go to Control Panel>Power Options and click the left hand menu – Choose what the power buttons do. Configure the options so that pressing the power button puts the laptop into hibernation (there really is no need to reboot every day). Then to reboot, use the START> Shutdown/restart buttons…


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1 reply
  1. TuneUp
    TuneUp says:

    The less strain put on your processor, memory and hard disk, the less energy your notebook will consume. Sounds like a given, but most people don’t think about these things. Particularly if you want to watch a movie on a plain or train with your laptop, but these resource intensive applications kill the battery life. I have found it is also helpful to keep your system optimized. If you have no background activity, turn off unnecessary services, and keep your disk defragmented at all times; it will make a difference. More info here: http://bit.ly/KnHNf.

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