Windows 8.1 offers many of the same battery-saving features found in previous versions of Windows, but they’re often in different places. These options will help you make your tablet or laptop’s battery last as long as possible.
Your Windows 8.1 tablet or laptop probably comes with Bluetooth support that’s enabled by default. If you don’t use wireless Bluetooth devices, leaving the Bluetooth radio running will just drain battery power.
To disable Bluetooth if you’re not using it, swipe in from the right or press Windows Key + C to access the charms, select Settings, and select Change PC settings. Navigate to PC and devices > Bluetooth and toggle Bluetooth off. If you’d like to use Bluetooth, you can easily re-enable it from here.
Adjust Display Brightness
Your screen’s backlight uses quite a bit of power. Reducing your display brightness will save that power. Windows 8.1 uses automatic brightness on devices with brightness sensors, but you can also adjust the brightness setting yourself.
To access the brightness slider, open the charms bar and select the Settings charm. Tap or click the Screen icon and adjust the brightness slider.
Choose a Power Plan
Windows 8.1 still has standard Windows power plans, which are basically just groups of settings you can change all at once. For example, the default power plan is Balanced, but you can select Power Saver to save some power. In most cases, you’ll want to stick with the default Balanced setting. Power plans also expose additional options to you, so you can dig into this dialog and adjust a variety of power settings to control how your power-saving settings work. We don’t necessarily recommend changing the more advanced settings unless you know what you’re doing.
To modify power plans, open the desktop Control Panel by pressing Windows Key + X and clicking Control Panel. Navigate to Hardware and Sound > Power Options and select your power plan.
Adjust Display and Computer Sleep Times
While you probably won’t want to get too deep into the power plan options, you may want to adjust the “turn off the display” and “put the computer to sleep” times. Click the Change plan settings links in the Power Options screen to access these settings.
You can control what happens when you step away from your computer or set it aside and stop using it from here. To save battery power, you’ll want the computer’s display to turn off as quickly as possible and to put the computer to sleep as quickly as possible. With the display off — and especially with the computer asleep — you’re using less power.
Of course, everything you adjust here is a trade-off. If you set the times too low, the computer will turn off its display and sleep while you’re still using it. You can also save power by putting your device to sleep when you’re done using it instead of waiting for it to time out and go to sleep on its own.
Devices you have plugged into your computer use power. For example, if you have a USB mouse plugged into your computer, that USB mouse is drawing power through your computer’s USB port so it can run. It’s not a huge amount of power and you shouldn’t fret if you’re actually using the mouse, but you’ll want to unplug devices you’re not using if you really want to save power.
Some USB devices use more power than others, of course. A tiny USB stick won’t use as much power as a mechanical external hard drive, for example.
Use Airplane Mode
Airplane mode will disable Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and any mobile data connection. if you don’t need network access, this is an easy way to squeeze some more battery life out of your device by disabling the wireless features.
To enable airplane mode, click the wireless icon in your desktop system tray and toggle the Airplane mode slider. You can also open the charms bar, tap Settings, and tap the Wi-Fi icon to access this menu.
Disable Automatic App Updates
If you’d prefer updating apps manually, you can prevent Windows from updating “Store apps” automatically. To do so, open the Windows Store app, swipe in from the right or press Windows Key + C, and navigate to Settings > App updates. This won’t save much battery power, but it will allow you to update apps when you choose to update them.
Windows RT and some full Windows 8.1 devices with Intel Atom processors also support a new feature called Connected Standby. The device can go into a low-power mode, waking up regularly to fetch new updates and emails — just like smartphones, iPads, and Android tablets receive emails and messages while sleeping. This does use additional battery power, as the device isn’t really asleep when it’s asleep. Unfortunately, there’s no way to disable Connected Standby that we know of. However, putting the device into airplane mode or just disabling Wi-Fi before putting it to sleep will prevent it from waking up to download new information.
Image Credit: Windows 8 Tablet by K.G.23 on Flickr