Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
If you’re leaving your display active while your computer is idle, you’re wasting energy. Whether you’d like to save money or just get a little more out of your laptop’s battery life, you have plenty of options to choose from. We’ll touch on manual as well as automatic solutions to address the waste of power.
Turn Off Your Monitor Manually
The simplest way to save energy is by manually turning off your monitor whenever it’s not in use. For desktop users, this couldn’t be easier, as most monitors will have a physical button that allows you to power down the screen separately to the computer tower.
However, the same functionality isn’t as readily available on many laptops. Depending on your brand and model, there might be a manual display shutdown command attributed to one of your function keys. The best way to find out whether or not this is true for your laptop is to consult the documentation you received with it, or to perform a web search of the device’s product name and the phrase ‘function keys’.
If your laptop doesn’t offer that sort of functionality, don’t worry — there are plenty of software solutions for that problem.
Adjust Your Laptop Power Plan Settings
Laptop users have even more reason to keep a close eye on their display’s power usage than desktop users; if your screen is consuming battery life unnecessarily, there might not be any charge left when you need your PC most. Luckily, it’s not very difficult to adjust your display settings and ensure that this doesn’t happen.
To do so, open up the Control Panel and navigate to Hardware and Sound > Power Options and then select Change Plan Settings for whatever power plan you have running.
Here you’ll find two important settings; when to turn off the display and the level of screen brightness. Both should be customized to your own tastes, but a shorter length of time before your display turns off and a lower dimmer brightness will yield the greatest effect in terms of conserving energy and battery life.
You can also opt to put your computer to sleep after a specified amount of time, but remember that doing so will affect more than just the display.
Disable Your Screensaver
There are plenty of useful applications for a screensaver, but it won’t do much to help your computer cut down its energy usage. To turn it off completely, simply right-click an empty space on your desktop and select Personalize. Then, click Screen Saver at the bottom right hand portion of the window.
From this window, (None) should be selected in the Screen saver dropdown menu. Then follow the instructions from above to turn off your display after a short time of inactivity — without making sure that the screen turns off, you won’t gain any advantage by turning off your screensaver.
Create a Shortcut on Your Desktop
In place of a physical button on your machine, you can create a Desktop shortcut that will allow you to turn your computer monitor off with a quick double-click. First, you’ll need to download a utility called NirCmd that allows you to perform a host of basic tasks without the need for a visual interface.
Once you’ve downloaded and extracted NirCmd, head to your Desktop and create a New Shortcut. Browse to the location you extracted NirCmd to, put it in quotation marks and add the command cmdwait 1000 monitor off as in the screenshot below.
Name the shortcut something sensible like ‘Power Off Monitor’ and you’re good to go. You can then right-click the shortcut and access the Properties menu to customize it even further. Changing the icon it uses is a good way to ensure that it stands out from the other content on your Desktop.
However, if you want to make things really easy on yourself, set a keyboard shortcut. This will allow you to switch off your monitor at any time via the use of a simple key combination — just remember to use something easy to remember, that isn’t already in use for another function.
Download and Install ScreenOff
ScreenOff is a straightforward way for turning off your monitor or display from any Windows computer. Once you’ve downloaded and extracted the miniscule 13KB tool, you’ll have a shortcut that can be placed on your Desktop. Any time you want to turn your screen off, double click that shortcut and it will power down.
The advantage of using ScreenOff is that it’s completely portable — it doesn’t require an install, and it doesn’t need to download any .NET Framework updates to get up and running. This means you can use it on a work computer that you don’t have administrator rights to, or even keep it on a USB drive so you can have access to the functionality whenever you might need it.
Do you have a great piece of software for cutting down on your monitor’s power usage? Do you have a tip for anyone looking to make their computer a little bit more energy efficient? Let us know about it in the comments section below.