1. Dim the screen
By far the biggest power drain on most laptops is the screen. Or, to be more specific, the screen’s backlight. This is what enables you to see the colours on an LCD screen, and some older laptops have power-sapping fluorescent backlights. Modern laptops have LED backlights, but even these use a fair amount of juice.
Dimming the screen brightness can add 30 minutes or more to your battery life. Virtually all laptops have keyboard shortcuts to adjust the brightness. Typically, you’ll hold the Fn key and press one of the function keys in the top row, or one of the cursor keys labelled with a sun symbol.
If not, hold the Windows key and press X. This will open up the Mobility Center where you can change the brightness, and this works in all versions of Windows.
2. Change the power settings
By default, your laptop might be set to Windows’ ‘Balanced’ setting rather than Power Saver. In the Control Panel search for Power Options and check which Power Plan is selected. Don’t forget that Windows uses different power and performance settings depending on whether it is running on mains or battery power.
You should find a battery saver option, and it’s simply a case of selecting it and closing the window. If not, click on ‘Show additional plans’. If there’s still nothing, you can customise a power plan by clicking Change plan settings next to a profile.
You should set the screen to turn off after a couple of minutes, and set the laptop to sleep if nothing appears to be happening after five or 10 minutes.
If you delve into the advanced power settings, you can tweak things to your liking, setting when the system hibernates and which components should use their maximum power saving profiles (including, on some laptops, the graphics card and Wi-Fi adapter).
3. Disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
If you’re not using them, disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Both radios can use a fair amount of power, so it makes sense to turn them off when you’re on battery power. Most laptops have a switch or key combination to disable Wi-Fi, but Bluetooth can be trickier.
Some manufacturers provide a utility (often obvious in the Start menu) for enabling or disabling Bluetooth, but if in doubt, you can head to the Device Manager in the Control Panel, scroll through the list of hardware until you find the Bluetooth adaptor, right-click on it and choose Disable. (Double-clicking on it when disabled should enable it again.)
4. Don’t leave your laptop on permanent charge
Lithium-ion batteries are relatively clever in that they can’t be overcharged, but it’s not good for the long-term health of your battery to leave your laptop always plugged in to the mains. Some manufacturers (including Sony and Lenovo) provide a utility which limits the battery from fully charging.
This helps to prevent battery degradation and means you can leave the laptop always connected to the mains. When you want to use your laptop on battery power and get maximum battery life, disable the limiter and allow the laptop to charge to 100 percent.