8 easy ways to slash your tech power bills

Save power on Vista
If you're running Vista you can change the power settings for almost anything, from the processor to any installed adapters

With electricity prices on the up, we're either going to have to spend more cash on the bills or find a way to decrease the amount of power our computers and gadgets use.

Fortunately, the latter is easy. Here are eight money-saving tips to help you keep those power bills under control:

1. Tweak your PC

You don't need 100 per cent performance to smirk at b3ta or check your email, so use energy-saving settings to reduce power usage when you don't need sheer speed. In Vista, you can adjust power settings for individual adapters and even the processor.

2. Go for LCD - or stick with your CRT

CRT displays typically use the least power and plasmas the most - although the figures vary with size and any energy-saving technology that's been used. Whatever you've got, the brighter the display the more power it's pulling.

3. Put your router to bed

Do you really need Wi-Fi when you're asleep? Apple's Time Capsule draws up to 30W when it's on, and nothing when it's off.

4. Switch off the screensaver

If you're not looking at anything, why not put the display to sleep - or better still, shut the whole thing down until you need it again?

5. Use Auto Shutdown

Downloading big files overnight? Use the Auto Shutdown plug-in for Firefox to turn off your computer when the job's done.

6. Stop overcharging

Turn off mobile, laptop and battery chargers when you reach full power: if you don't, they'll continue to use electricity to the tune of £60m per year in the UK alone.

7. Unplug peripherals

Individual add-ons don't take much power, but if you take a bunch of USB lava lamps, an external hard disk and a printer and leave them constantly connected you're wasting precious pounds.

8. Use the off switch

Standby modes can still draw plenty of power, especially with gadgets such as big-screen TVs - but 71 per cent of us do it, and the government reckons it accounts for six to 10 per cent of the typical home's energy bill. Judging by our last bill, that works out as a million jillion pounds - each.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now and her next book, about pop music, is out in 2025. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind.