In honor of the month that brings us Earth Day, here are some tips on cutting down the amount of electricity you use to power your gadgets...

Share story

In honor of the month that brings us Earth Day, here are some tips on cutting down the amount of electricity you use to power your gadgets.

Power management: Set your computer to go into standby, sleep or hibernate mode after between 30 and 60 minutes of inactivity. This will conserve power and allow you to quickly get back into what you were working on. The less time it takes for your computer to go into standby or hibernate, the more power you will save.

Using the power-management features on your computer can save between $25 and $75 per year per computer.

On a Windows PC, you can change the settings by going to the Control Panel. On a Mac, look under “System Preferences.” If possible, change the settings for both the monitor and the computer itself.

On laptops, be sure to activate the power-saving features in both the AC and DC (battery) power profiles.

Using a screen saver may not save power and may actually use more power if you have a screen saver with animations or lots of pictures.

Flat-screen monitor: If you have a computer with an old, bulky CRT monitor, consider replacing the monitor with a flat-screen LCD monitor, which you can get for less than $200. The flat-screen monitor will take up less space and use a lot less power.

Charge wisely: When you are finished charging your cellphone, iPod or other device, unplug the device from the charger and unplug the charger from the outlet (or flip the switch on the power strip). Since chargers typically don’t have on/off buttons, they are still drawing power when plugged in.

Unplug peripherals: Most computers and televisions are surrounded by other devices, such as printers, speakers, video-game consoles and DVD players. These devices don’t take too long to boot up, so when you are not using them, keep them turned off and unplugged. You may want to plug all of your peripherals into a power strip so you can turn them all on and off by flipping a switch.

If you need help: Symantec, the maker of the Norton anti-virus software, is offering its Green PC Service for free until the end of this month. The downloadable service allows a Symantec technician to remotely log onto your Windows PC and change your power-management settings for you. Once you download the service from, you call Symantec to speak to a technician.

Replacing old technology:

• Reselling. eBay’s Rethink Initiative ( has some good suggestions for figuring out if your old gadget has any value as well as tips on how to resell it.

The site also has advice on recycling and donation.

Other sites will buy old gadgets from you.

• Recycling. If you are replacing an old gadget with a new one, before you buy, check with the manufacturer to see if it offers free recycling.

If not, check with other electronics manufacturers, local computer shops or your county.

For instance, Nokia offers free recycling of cellphones and accessories regardless of the manufacturer (

The Consumer Electronics Association’s lets you find recycling options by ZIP code.

• Donating. Check with local schools, computer shops and nonprofit organizations. Other resources include the eBay site and

Buying new technology:

• Consider buying electronics that meet the government’s Energy Star certification. For a list of products, go to also has a list of green products.

• Check out PC Magazine’s recent rating of eco-friendly PCs at