How Much Energy Is Your Computer Using Up?

Isaac Fernandez

The world is becoming a more eco-friendly place. We’re now thinking about things that we once did not and that includes what kind of energy consumption our devices take. Even a desktop computer or a laptop can consume a decent amount of energy if you’re not careful. So, how much power does a computer use?

How Much Electricity Does a Computer Use?

Computer power consumption can vary depending on the specific device you’re using, what kind of programs you’re running, and how the settings on your device are configured. Too often we fail to take into account the fact that our computers use energy, just like our fridge, dishwasher, television, etc. They are no different than a light bulb or an appliance in our home. 

Your CPU uses about as much energy as the basic light bulb. If your laptop or desktop is running something similar to a Pentium processor, then how many amps do a computer use? About 100 kWh is the average output. This is without accounting for a monitor. You might be surprised to hear that the monitor can sometimes require more energy to operate than your computer’s processor.

What Contributes to Your Computer’s Energy Usage

What Contributes to Your Computer Energy Usage

There are many different components to keep in mind when figuring out the amount of energy your laptop is using. That includes external accessories and internal pieces, as well.

External Accessories

  • Speakers
  • Printers
  • Monitors

Internal Pieces

  • Processor speed
  • Networking
  • Programs running
  • Display brightness
  • Networking

How Many Watts Does a Laptop Use?

Your laptop wattage can be dependent upon which kind of program you’re running or what kind of activities you’re doing. Are you downloading a file, running Photoshop, or just typing in a Word doc? Each of these tasks takes a different amount of energy. 

A laptop takes up less energy than a desktop. The average laptop takes 15-45 watts, all depending on its workload.

  • With applications open: 30 watts
  • Watching an H.264 video: 35 watts
  • Importing a music CD: 38 watts
  • Watching a video at the same time as importing a music CD: 43 watts

How Much Electricity Does Your Computer Drain When It’s Not Being Used?

It’s easy to ask, “How much power is my PC using?” However, you might not have thought about how much energy your computer takes when it’s just sitting there. So many of us leave our computer running during the night while we sleep. We don’t even think about turning it off. 

The screensaver is enough to conserve energy, right? Wrong. The truth is that the screensaver does very little to impact energy. Instead, the screensaver is meant to do only what it says, and that is to protect the screen. The amount of watts used is about the same. 

Consider shutting your computer down at night or when you won’t be using it for lengthy amounts of time. It will not only give you a lower energy bill, but it will also contribute positively to your computer’s longevity and overall health.

What Types of Computers Drain the Most Energy?

When you’re asking yourself, “How much power does my computer use?”, have you ever stopped to consider how different types of computers can make that number larger or smaller? 

  • Apple iMac – Most of these models take around 100 watts of energy. You might be surprised to hear that even an Apple iMac that is sitting still can take 97 watts of energy.
  • MacBook Pro – These typically take between 30-65 watts. If it’s simply running background apps, you’ll be at around 30 watts. If your MacBook Pro is converting video (one of the heaviest tasks your CPU can carry), you’ll see about 64 watts of usage. 
  • Average Desktop PC – Between 60-250 watts, with the sleep or standby mode running between 1-6 watts.
  • PC laptop – The average laptop running Windows is going to use about 15-45 watts.

Does Where I Live Impact What I Pay for My Computer’s Energy Usage?

Yes, the zip code where you live can impact how much money you are paying for your computer’s energy use. If you live in a place like Washington, you’ll pay about 10 cents per kWh. A place like Hawaii will be about 30 cents per kWh. The average price around the country is 13 cents per kWh.

Tips to Lower Your Computer’s Energy Use

There are a lot of ways you can lower your computer’s energy use. Your carbon footprint will be lessened, as will your energy payment.

Don’t Let It Run While You’re Away

It might not seem like a big deal to let your computer run at night, but the amount of energy it consumes can add up. After all, the average CPU uses about 100-200 watts when it’s awake. It can use up to 60 watts even when it’s asleep. That makes your best bet just shutting it down.

Get Your Computer Running Efficiently

There are many areas to look at to be sure your computer’s running as efficiently as possible.

  • Malware – Don’t panic, but you probably have malware. Any computer that’s connected to the internet is at risk of malware. Many companies place it on your computer to monitor your online activities so that they can market items specifically tailored to you. You’ll need to get rid of this unwanted software not only because of the nuisance it causes but also because it can drain energy from your computer.    
  • Check the fan – Did you know your fan can malfunction, causing your computer to run hot? This can drain power and cause you unnecessary energy bills. First, be sure there’s not dust covering the vent because that could be the problem. If you’ve checked that and you think it might be your fan, you’ll want to get it to a computer repair shop.


You now have a more accurate picture of the kind of energy consumption that occurs. When asking yourself, “How many watts does a computer use?”,  the answer might surprise you. Better yet, it might save you some money on your energy bills.

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