3 Myths about Computers and Electricity


As you get ready to leave your home or office, you face a decision: turn the computer off, or leave it on? If you’re an energy-conscious consumer, you’ll want to make the decision that will be the most energy efficient and safe for your computer. Here, we dispel three modern-day myths about your computer’s energy consumption.

How Much Energy Does a Computer Use?


There are many different types of computers out there, from notebooks and laptops, to work desktops and gaming PCs, all with varying levels of power consumption. However, on average, laptops typically use a maximum of 60 watts, whereas common desktops can use up to 175 watts.

Myth #1: Starting a computer causes an energy surge that uses more energy than simply leaving it on.

While there is a very small surge in electricity consumption as you boot up a computer, it lasts for only a fraction of a second. The cost of this burst of electricity is so small that it cannot be measured. Leaving the computer running will always use more energy than turning it off at night and restarting it when you return.  Like all home appliances, turning off your computer is the best way to save electricity.


Myth #2: Turning a computer on and off repeatedly will damage its internal mechanisms.

At one point in the history of computers, turning the computer on and off could cause potential damage to the power switch. But unless you’ve got a computer from before 1993, it’s completely fine to turn it on and off whenever you want. Today’s computers use parts created through a manufacturing process known as “thermal cycling,” which greatly increases their strength and durability. During manufacturing, the process of repeatedly heating and cooling materials, such as ceramic or metal, eliminates the small surface cracks and flaws that are most likely to cause a part to fail.

Myth #3: Turning the computer off at night means the device’s sleep setting isn’t needed throughout the day.

While shutting the computer and monitor completely down is the best choice for saving on electricity costs, today’s computers use very little power when in sleep mode. A laptop in sleep mode will use about one to two watts of electricity and a desktop will use one to five watts. Setting your computer to go to sleep after being idle for 15 minutes will benefit you when you are periodically away from your desk. This can help you save even more energy throughout the day.

If you’re wondering how much energy some of your other major appliances are using, you can find out more here.

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