Buying a new laptop or computer can be fun, and we’re often spoilt for choice. We’ve fallen in love with computers in the last twenty years or so, and they are rapidly becoming smaller and mobile. Mobile computing is already becoming the standard, and in the next few years many people will be taking their desk top PCs to the dump. Whether you’ve gone, or are going mobile, it also makes sense on an energy use front. Laptops can use between 70 and 85 per cent less energy than many desk top PCs and this means they should be high on the list of potentials when it’s time to buy computing power for your home.
The right choice
Obviously, when it comes to buying a new computer of any variety, you’ll need to consider your own needs. Today, laptops generally compete well with the desktop variety and you should be able to find one that can fulfil your requirements. If you use your computer for work and leisure it may make sense to buy a desktop, but where possible consider a laptop simply from an energy efficiency rating. Before making your choice, include this factor on the list of requirements. The latest laptops will use by far less energy than desktops and the energy technology is developing all the time. The Energy Saving Trust is a good place to check out recommended models that offer the best energy savings.
Of course, it’s not just the computer that uses up power. Peripherals also can make computing an expensive hobby. Scanners and printers are the main add-ons in this department and, again, should be checked for energy efficiency. A combination scanner and printer will make most sense for average households and these should not only be of the best energy rating possible but should be switched off when not in use! This applies to that laptop too.
You may, or may not, be planning to take advantage of the government’s scheme to get us all generating our own electricity. The Feed in Tariff (FIT) scheme offers great incentives to have solar panels or other electricity generating systems installed at your home. The scheme pays you for every last drop of electricity you generate – regardless of whether you use that up yourself or sell some back to the grid. In addition to this there are a range of increasingly effective mini-solar systems, including several that can power your laptop. Reviews are mixed on some of the models, and many seem to like full sun to generate enough power to run and charge a laptop, but there are at least a couple of models available that appear to be worth considering. Possibly not ideal for everyday use, but certainly another weapon in the carbon cutting war and one that may well suit those who rely on a laptop for work and find themselves out and about on a frequent basis.
Finally, back to the basic rule of energy saving. Switch off. This applies to just about any appliance that you would normally leave on standby. In the case of laptops these should be disconnected from the mains once fully charged and only on when needed. If your energy tariff operates a lower tariff overnight it makes fairly straightforward common sense to charge up laptop, phones and other battery powered equipment overnight, when you aren’t using them. If you are doing this take a moment to think about safety before you go to sleep and ensure that any appliances and gadgets are plugged in correctly and that sockets are not overloaded. It takes surprisingly little effort to save the planet and the best bit is, you get to save some pennies too!
Some simple steps can help to save energy around the home and our increasing use of computers at home is one area on which to focus. In addition, check out what is on offer from energy suppliers from Scottish Gas to EDF to make the most of savings and incentive schemes available on fuel.