Go green and save energy with Power Options in Windows 7

Does Power Options in Windows 7 can really help to save energy? Short answer, yes! We are in a time where saving energy is very important and every little bit helps. With Windows 7 you can accomplish better battery life in portable devices, and you can also save a good amount of energy on desktop computers by properly configuring the Power Options. This is great for the environment and you will be saving some money too.

Power Options

Power Options

Does Power Options in Windows 7 can really help to save energy? Short answer, yes! We are in a time where saving energy is very important and every little bit helps. With Windows 7 you can accomplish better battery life in portable devices, and you can also save a good amount of energy on desktop computers by properly configuring the Power Options. This is great for the environment and you will be saving some money too.

In this article, we are going to talk about how to select, customize and create power plans, the difference between Windows 7 Sleep States, and also how to generate an energy report that help to troubleshoot common energy-efficiency and battery problems. Plus additional tips to help you optimize the computer energy consumption.

How to select a power plan

Windows 7 provide a much better power options in comparison with previous versions of Windows that you should really take advantage. A well configured power plan can save energy, optimize the computer performance or it can balance energy on capable hardware to achieve best performance. Follow theses steps to select the right power plan that suit your needs:

1 Go to Start , type Power Options and press enter.
2. Identify and select between from the following power plans: Balanced, High performance and Power saver. Note, some manufactures may add additionally power plans.

Windows 7 Power Options

Another way to select a power plan in a laptop is by clicking the battery icon in the notification area, on the Windows taskbar, and select the power plan you want.

Customizing a power plan

Next to the power plan, click Change plan settings and a page similar to this will open:

Edit Plan Settings

As you can see in the Edit Plan Settings page, here you will be able to adjust power settings when the computer is on battery and as well when it’s plugged in. Turn off the display and Put the computer to sleep options will be available for portable and desktop computers, while Dim the display and Adjust plan brightness, will be only available in portable computers.

The computer display along with the video card are some of the components that will consume a large amount of power. To optimize the battery usage you can try these settings:

  • Dim the display leave the default, 1 minute.
  • Turn off the display set it to 5 min or less.
  • Put the computer to sleep after 7 to 15 mins.
  • Adjust plan brightness, this is very important, the display brightness will drain the battery faster when is set too high, and it can also be bad for your eyes. Low the brightness of the display as much as you can, but not to the point where you have to force your eyes to read.

All these settings will switch on to the specify time when you are away from the computer.

When you are done changing the settings, don’t forget to click Save changes.

In the case that you want to customize the power plan even further, by  going to Change advanced power settings page, you can customize parameters such as:

  • How long the computer has to idle before turning the hard drive off.
  • Change the power settings for your wireless adapter.
  • Battery behavior.
  • Multimedia settings.
  • Disable hybrid sleep and many more.

Power advanced settings

To save the Power Options – Advanced Settings, click Apply and OK.

How to create a power plan

Having the ability to create your own power plan is a good idea. For example: If you spend time in different places and they have different room light, you can create power plans to adapt the computer display brightness to each environment lighting, or if you often give presentations in your company, you can create a power plan to NOT turn the display off or stop the computer from going to sleep.

1 While in Power Options, click Create a power plan from the left pane.

2 Select a power plan that has the most settings you are likely to need, then type a name for the new power plan (something descriptive) and click Next.

Create new power plan

3 Change the settings for the plan and click Create.

Change setting for the new plan

4 Now the new power plan is created. If you want to add more customization, look again the customizing a power plan.

Tip: If you need to prevent the computer display from turning off, change the setting to Never for both On Battery and Plugged in.

What is the difference between the Sleep States

In Windows 7 you have the option Choose what the power buttons do, which allows to specify the action to take when someone presses the power, sleep button, or close the lid (Do Nothing, Sleep, Hibernate, or Shutdown).

What the power buttons do

So, What is the difference between them?

First, if you select the Sleep option Windows 7 by default will use hybrid sleep, which means, that this is a combination of sleep and hibernation. All your work and programs in memory will be copied to the hard drive and then the computer will go to a low-power state. This option is safer in case of a power failure occurs, Windows can restore your work from the hard drive without losing any data.

  • Do Nothing – No actions will be taken.
  • Sleep – Sets your computer into low-power state, which also allows to fast resume.
  • Hibernate – Saves everything (documents and programs) in memory to the hard drive and then the computer will shutdown. When you turn your computer back on your session will be restore.
  • Shutdown – Closes any running program and shuts Windows completely.

The setting that you select in this page will be applied to all power plans.

How to analyze computer’s common energy-efficiency and battery problems in Windows 7

In the geek side, Windows 7 provide a great command-line tool to work with the power options, one of them is the ability to generate a report to understand or troubleshoot common energy-efficiency and battery problems.

You should use the powercfg  -ENERGY command when the computer is idle and not programs or documents are open.

To run the command you need go to Start , type cmd, right-click cmd and select Run as Administrator. Now in the command prompt, type powercfg -energy. After command has finished type energy-report.html, and the Power Efficiency Diagnostics Report will open in your web browser with really useful information that can help you to troubleshoot common energy problems.

If you are interested on learning more about Windows 7 Powercfg command-line options, visit this page on Microsoft TechNet.

Even more tips that can help to save energy

If you are serious on going green, saving energy or getting the most laptop’s battery, you can also try:

  • Disable Windows 7 Aero glass effect. Go to Start  type Personalization and under Basic and High Contrast Themes, select Windows 7 Basic.
  • Turn off your wireless adapter when is not needed.
  • Close applications and Windows Gadgets that are not needed.
  • Try not to watch full-screen videos or avoid watching videos at all, when you don’t have a power source nearby and you need to get work done.
  • Disable screen saver, instead configure the computer display to turn off to a very short time.
  • Do not use full color wallpapers, instead opt for solid colors wallpapers, dark colors are preferable, black being the best choice.
  • Keep your computer up to date (Windows Update and Device Drivers). If there is a bug in that could be causing energy efficiency problems, there could be a fix for it.
  • Defrag your computer regularly, to keep things speedy.
  • Have an antivirus software that it is also up to date, and perform a full virus scan regularly. Viruses can slow down your computer, making it work harder.
  • Disable devices that are not needed. Enabled devices consume energy even if you are not using them (Bluetooth or infrared, build in modem, etc.).
  • Unplug peripherals that you are not using, like USB powered devices (external hard drives and portable media devices).
  • Hibernate the computer, remember that this option saves all your work to the hard drive and when you turn it back on it will restore your session where you left off.
  • Keep the computer clean of dust as much as you can, and do not leave it in places with poor air circulation, to avoid over heating.

Keep in mind that while a lot of these tips are more suited for laptops, you can still use most of this on a desktop computer too.