Five Tips For Better Battery Life

Last Updated Aug 19, 2009 12:27 AM EDT

Tired of watching your laptop run out of juice too soon? I feel your pain. Rather than buying an extended battery or carrying a portable generator around with you though, there are a few simple and relatively painless things you can do to significantly extend your laptop's battery life. Here are five tried and tested strategies for getting noticeably more juice from your laptop:


Lower the Brightness. In much the same way that the worldwide market for those tiny dogs that fit in a woman's purse is limited rich blond heiresses, the lion's share of the demand on your laptop battery comes from the screen. (Yes, even I agree that was something of a tortured metaphor.) The first thing you should do when on battery power is make sure the screen's brightness is cranked way down. You can set this up as a default in Windows' power management Control Panel.

Disable Aero Glass. Another screen tweak: If you run Windows Vista or Windows 7, this a huge way to recover lost battery life. Rather than changing it manually whenever you go off the grid, though, install a utility like Aerofoil or BatteryCare.

Turn Off Wireless. If you need Internet access, fine. But if your laptop is always searching for a Wi-Fi connection even when you're out of reach of one, or if you simply don't need to connect, you're wasting battery. Flip the wireless toggle to off (most laptops have a switch to easily disable Wi-Fi) so you don't burn power on something you don't need.

Don't Use the CD/DVD Drive. Running your internal CD/DVD drive consume a lot of battery power. Remove any discs so the drive doesn't spin up[ and don't play audio CDs or try to install something from disc when you're not on wall power.

Mute the Sound. You need sound on a laptop like cats need motorcycles. I leave the sound on my laptop muted all the time so it doesn't beep or alarm in the middle of a meeting, but sound uses power, too - so there are several practical reasons to keep it turned off.

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