You usually see laptop users take precautions over how much power their monitor uses. However, even if your PC is always on mains power, it still makes financial and environmental sense to try to use less power overall.
Here are a few simple display changes you can make in Windows 11 that will help save power and prolong your battery life on laptops
Why Changing the Display Settings Reduces Your Power Consumption
Your computer display is a significant component that is almost always in use; after all, it’s difficult to use a PC when you can’t see what you’re doing. This makes the monitor one of the more power-draining parts of a laptop or desktop PC.
Modern LED computer displays use less power than older LCD or CRT displays. But even if your screen is LED, it can still be a considerable power drain.
If your computer is constantly connected to the mains, your power usage might not be too much of a concern. If you use a laptop on battery regularly, getting the most usage from each charge is probably a familiar problem.
How to Reduce the Power Usage of Your Display
Thankfully, there are several simple ways to reduce the amount of power your display uses, which will hopefully increase your battery life and might even help the planet (a little).
1. Lower the Display Refresh Rate
Higher refresh rates usually result in a smoother display image with less flickering. However, higher refresh rates also force the display to use more power. Fortunately, you may be able to lower the refresh rate with no noticeable loss of image quality.
Open Settings and go to System > Display > Advanced display. You can see information about your display, including the current refresh rate.
To lower the refresh rate, click the drop-down menu and choose a different rate from the available options. The number of different rates available will vary, depending on the display.
If you are unsure exactly how changing the refresh rate will affect your display, our guide to why refresh rates matter will help.
2. Change Your HDR to Battery Saver Mode
HDR, or High Dynamic Range, is a display feature that provides a better image in some situations. It can result in brighter highlights, a more detailed image, and a wider range of colors. Using HDR will also result in more power drain from the display.
You can change the HDR settings to make it use less power when the computer is on battery power. Go to Settings > System > Display > HDR. In the Battery options section, use the drop-down menu to select Optimize for battery life.
HDR isn’t available on all computers, nor in all apps or websites. Learn more about HDR, what it is and how it improves displays.
3. Lower the Video Playback Quality
Aside from rendering 3D graphics, watching videos is the most power-hungry activity you can do on your computer. You can usually reduce the video quality in the playback software. You can also tell Windows to automatically reduce playback quality to reduce power usage.
Open Settings > Apps > Video playback. You can either choose to optimize video playback for battery life all the time. Or you can optimize for quality and check the box to lower the resolution only when using battery power.
4. Enable the Content Adaptive Brightness Feature
Some computers running Windows 11 allow you to use Content Adaptive Brightness. This will automatically adjust the brightness and contrast of the display based on what is on the screen, thus making videos and images appear clearer and reducing the amount of power the display uses.
Open Settings > System > Display and look at the Brightness section. If this feature is available, you will see an option to Help improve battery by optimizing the content shown and brightness. Check the box next to this option to enable adaptive brightness.
Content Adaptive Brightness might not be suitable when working with images and graphics. This is because it might not display colors accurately. It can also result in abrupt brightness changes when watching a video, which can be jarring.
If you don’t see the adaptive brightness option, you can also manually adjust the screen brightness on Windows to reduce power usage.
5. Reduce the Time Until the Display Sleeps
Another simple way to reduce the amount of power your display uses is by reducing the amount of time it takes for your PC to turn off your display after you’ve left the computer.
You can change this setting by going to Settings > System > Power & battery. Click on Screen and sleep to expand the options menu. You can reduce the time before the screen sleeps to as little as one minute. This is probably a little impractical, so choose a time lower than the default 20 minutes that works for you.
6. Use a Dark Theme and Wallpaper
It is unlikely that using a dark theme and wallpaper will add hours of extra usage time to your battery. But as part of a series of power-saving steps, this simple change can save your power and your eyeballs at the same time.
You can find the options for changing the theme and wallpaper in Settings > Personalization. Windows has dark themes and wallpapers available, but if you don’t like any of them, you can easily grab one. For instance, here are some Windows 11 dark themes you can use.
7. Set Up Custom Graphics Options
You can choose which display adaptor individual apps use. This may result in lower-quality graphics, particularly if applied to games. But this is exactly why it can save power use.
Open Settings > System > Display > Graphics. A list of apps that allow custom graphics settings will be displayed. Click or tap on any app in the list and then select Options.
The options will vary depending on which display adaptors are available. Choose the adaptor you want that app to use, and then click Save.
Changing Display Settings to Reduce Power Use
Reducing the power usage of your computer is a good idea, particularly if you need to work from the battery regularly. Your computer display is likely to use a big chunk of the available power. Thankfully, there are several display settings you can change that will help save power without affecting your Windows experience too much.
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