5 Simple Ways to Conserve Power and Money with Your PC

Last Updated May 16, 2010 11:55 PM EDT

How much energy does your PC waste? Not enough to retire in the Caymans, even if you save every last electron, of course.

But there are a number of painless things you can do to save a few dollars on your electric bill. And in the process, you'll work just a little bit greener -- and that'll make your soul feel good, along with your wallet.

Wise Bread recently rounded up a few power saving tips. Most of them are easy things you can do this very minute to make a small dent in your energy consumption. Here are the best of the bunch:

Use sleep or hibernate mode. Don't leave your PC on 24/7 -- put it to sleep when it's not in use, especially overnight.

Don't use a screen saver. Screen savers burn electricity like the 4th of July, which is doubly troubling, because they serve no practical purpose. Instead: Configure your PC to turn off the display.

Shut off your peripherals. If you only use your scanner twice a month, why is it turned on and ready to go 24/7? Even in lower power mode it's wasting electricity and costing you money.

Lower the screen brightness. If your display doesn't need to illuminate Cincinnati, you can drop the brightness and save money in the process.

Throttle down the processor. Last week, I recommended Granola, a free program that runs in the background and reduces the processor speed to save you money.

And finally...

Dud Advice: Here's a tip that's 9 kinds of popular these days, but I think it is not especially good advice -- stopping vampire power (also known as phantom power or standby power).

It's gotten all vogue these days to shut off all your electronics to stop the flow of vampire power. The problem with this approach is that this so-called vampire power maintains your devices in a ready state. Without standby mode, it takes a long time to start up, and some gadgets even rely on standby mode to do important things like performing system maintenance when you're not using them. Defeat your gadget's standby mode at your own risk.