How much electricity does a computer use? 

High energy bills: Is your computer guilty? Photo by cottonbro

As energy prices continue to soar, it’s good to understand how much electricity your various devices consume. PCs are frequently used for hours every day, so it’s worth exploring how much electricity a computer uses and how you can reduce it.

It’s hard to be specific about how much electricity a certain computer uses because many factors can affect it. With that in mind, let’s look at the two most significant areas: your PC’s components and what you do with it.

What’s inside your computer?

In the same way that a sports car usually drinks more petrol than a standard family car, a high-end gaming desktop will consume more energy than a basic laptop – even when performing simple tasks such as web browsing. It’s a simple fact that the more powerful the components within a computer, the more power it needs to keep running.

How do you use your computer?

It’s also a fact that when you step on your car’s accelerator pedal, you go faster, but you also work the engine harder and use more fuel. The same is true for computer tasks that demand extra work from your PC: mining Bitcoins or playing games, for example, require more energy than merely browsing Facebook.

How much electricity could my computer use?

Now that you have an idea what can affect your PC’s electricity usage, you can see there isn’t a definite answer on how much it may need. However, while in use, an average desktop computer will use somewhere between 60 to 300 Watts, and a standard laptop is in the region of 40 to 100 Watts.

Now all you need to do is figure out how much that might cost you. You could crunch the numbers yourself, but it’s far easier to use a electricity cost calculator instead.

If you want a more specific figure, you could always plug your computer into a power meter, which isn’t an expensive purchase. Many brands of smart plug, such as the TP-Link Tapo Smart Plug, also offer energy monitoring, as well as the handy ability to switch off connected devices remotely. Which brings us neatly to…

What can I do with my PC to save electricity?

The simplest option to reduce your electricity usage is to turn your computer off when not in use. If turning it off is a pain because your PC is slow at booting up, then you can always consider using sleep. In sleep mode, you reduce the electricity consumption to around 3-15 watts.

Another thing to consider if you’ve a slow booting or an old computer is to buy a new one. Almost all new laptops and desktops are more energy efficient and quick to boot. If a new computer doesn’t take your fancy, have your local PC specialist check over your current one because, like a slow running car, it may need a service.

On a laptop, the biggest energy hog is often the screen. Turning down screen brightness can reduce energy consumption, although the benefit will be relatively modest.

Laptop battery draining even though it’s plugged in?

About the author

Mark Parvin

I have worked with and wrote about computers, video games and consumer tech for more years than I care to admit.
I currently run my own IT support business and write about the wonders of tech whenever I can.

1 Comment

Click here to post a comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.