How Much Electricity Does a Computer Use?

CalendarNovember 28, 2018

When you think of objects in your home that use a lot of electricity, you probably think of your air conditioner and heater. And you’d be right.

You probably don’t think about your computer though, but you should.

In this article, we’ll explain how much electricity your computer uses. We’ll also share some energy-saving tips as well.

How Much Electricity Does a Computer Use

If you’ve ever wondered, “How much electricity does a computer use,” we’re sorry to say that there is no clear answer. That being said, we’ll try our best here to help answer the question.

Most computers are built to use up to 400 kilowatts of electricity per hour, but they usually use less than that.

The average CPU uses about as many kilowatts per hour as the typical light bulb. Any computer that’s running on a Pentium-type processor uses about 100 kWh. This is with the monitor off. Your computer’s monitor probably uses more electricity than the actual processor itself.

Once you turn on your monitor the electricity use rate goes up. Different computers are going to use different amounts of energy. Speakers, printers, monitors, and other types of hardware are all going to use some electricity to run. It’ll also take power to connect these things to your computer. This is all going to affect your electricity usage.

The same thing happens when you open up a program and start doing work on your computer or laptop. The amount of electricity your computer uses will vary depending on the program you’re using. For example, a word document program will use less electricity than a computer game. Downloading, uploading, and streaming files are all going to take a larger amount of energy than reading a pdf file or doing something else text related.

As you can see, there’s a countless number of reasons why your electricity use will vary. These variables make it impossible to explain how much electricity your computer uses.

That being said, you can make some guesses about your usage and cost.

Look at your equipment’s maximum electric capacity. You can find that information in the user manuals, on the box your hardware came in, or with a quick Google search. Once you have those numbers added together, find how much the average kilowatt-hour costs in your state. These numbers will vary from city to city, but at least the state average will give you a rough usage estimate. Once you have the average cost for your state, multiply the kilowatt usage by that cost. This will tell you how much it costs you to power your computer for an hour. This final figure assumes that your computer is being put through its paces.

Chances are that you do not demand that much from your computer. It likely uses electricity and therefore costs much less to use than your estimate. But, at least you know the maximum it costs.

You can even take it a step further and multiply it by the estimated number of hours you use it every day to get an idea of how much electricity you use daily.

Doing a little bit of legwork will help you figure out your electricity usage better than we can.

How To Save Energy When You Use Your Computer

If you’ve run the numbers, you’ll be surprised by how much electricity your computer uses throughout the day. If you’d like to try and lower that number, here are some ways you could do it.

Lower your computer’s electricity usage by

Turning it off when you’re not using it

Most people think that they’re saving a lot of energy by putting their computer or laptop in sleep or hibernate mode. But that’s not necessarily the case. A computer can still be using anywhere between 1 and 60 kilowatts per hour when it’s asleep. When you consider that your computer’s CPU is using upwards of 100-200 kilowatts per hour, you’re hardly saving any energy in sleep mode.

Fix this by turning your computer off when you’re not using it. The only reason why you’d need to keep it on anyway is if you were hosting a file for others. And if you are, put it on the cloud and share the file instead. You’ll save a lot of electricity and money in the long run by turning your computer off.

Making sure it’s running optimally

Does your computer run hot? That might be due to a broken fan. It might be because of dust blocking the air vent. It might be because of a malfunctioning piece of hardware. Whatever the reason, if your computer isn’t running how it should, it’s probably using more energy than it needs to. You can fix this by taking it to a repair shop. Sure a repair might cost a little bit of money, but you’re going to make it back with energy savings over time.

Getting rid of malware

Computers collect malware over time. That’s just what they do. Unless you use your computer to exclusively write word documents, and you never go online, chances are good that you have some sort of malware on your computer. That doesn’t mean you have a virus or some identity-stealing hacker is taking your personal information. Most likely it’s a program that’s watching your internet habits for marketing purposes. Either way, this malware eats up electricity. Electricity you pay for. Make sure to do a malware scan every once and a while to clean up your computer. The less unnecessary programs you have running in the background, the less electricity you’ll use.

What’s The Point

So your computer uses a lot of energy to run. So what?

There are two reasons why you should care.

First, you should care because that electricity can hurt or help the environment. The Environmental Protection Agency has an energy calculator that helps you get a better idea for how much CO2 a kilowatt-hour of electricity releases into the atmosphere. Although your computer or laptop might not make a radical difference to the earth’s atmosphere, these small contributions worldwide add up. If we all cared, then we would see that our collective efforts would make a big difference.

Second, you pay for that electricity. If nothing else, you probably would like to spend less money on electricity, right? If you do the math, you’ll find that your computer costs you more money than you realize.

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If you’re looking to save the environment and money, come and check out Vivint Solar.

Vivint Solar provides its customers and their computers with clean solar energy so they can save money on their utilities. Contact one of our solar energy reps today to find out whether a solar energy system can save you money!

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