How to Make a Windows Laptop Battery Last Longer

Portability is a major advantage in owning a laptop; however, this doesn't mean much if you're always scrambling to find a power outlet. In addition to the basics, such as making sure you have a full charge before disconnecting and closing apps that you don't use, Windows 8.1 offers several ways you can reduce the drain on your laptop's battery between charges.

Configure Windows Power Plan settings to help maximize battery life.
(Screenshot courtesy of Microsoft.)
Step 1:

Launch Control Panel, select "Hardware and Sound" and click "Power Options." Click the "Change Plan Settings" link beside the Balanced plan, which is the default plan for most Windows 8.1 laptops. If your laptop also offers a Power Saver Plan, you can choose that option instead.

Click "Change Plan Settings."
Screenshot courtesy of Microsoft.
Step 2:

Click the "Sleep" menu beneath the battery icon. Select the shortest time period you can based on your work habits. The laptop can go to sleep in as little as one minute of being idle. If you select a long time period, try to remember to manually put the laptop to sleep before walking away for any prolonged amount of time.

Next to the Adjust plan brightness option, drag the battery's "Brightness" slider to the right to reduce the default screen brightness. Click "Change Advanced Power Settings" to see additional power-saving options.

Adjust the sleep screen brightness settings under the battery icon and
Screenshot courtesy of Microsoft.
Step 3:

Scroll through the Advanced settings under the Power Options to ensure they suit your preferences. If you use the Balanced plan, the default settings for each of these options maximize battery savings. For example, the laptop goes to sleep when you press the power button or close the lid. If you use a slide show desktop background, the slide show pauses when the laptop is using battery power. If you use a customized power plan, go through each of these settings to ensure they are optimized to save battery power.

Closing the lid or pressing the Power button puts the laptop to sleep.
Screenshot courtesy of Microsoft.
Step 1:

Reduce the screen brightness whenever it makes sense to do so when you're on battery power. Many laptops have brightness buttons on the keyboard, for instance, the F1 and F2 keys. Another way to reduce the brightness is to open Windows Settings, click the "Screen" icon and drag the brightness slider down.

Click the "Screen" icon to reduce screen brightness.
Screenshot courtesy of Microsoft.
Step 2:

Turn off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi whenever you're not using them. To do this, click the "Change PC Settings" link at the bottom of the Windows Settings menu and then turn off either the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth option. Using "Airplane Mode" turns off both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

Turn off wireless settings if you aren't using them.
Screenshot courtesy of Microsoft.
Step 3:

Disconnect USB devices from your laptop when it's running on battery power. Such devices as smartphones and tablets get their charge from their USB connections. If your laptop isn't plugged in to an AC outlet, this charge comes directly from the laptop's battery.

An iPad connected to a laptop can drain the laptop's battery.
Screenshot courtesy of Microsoft.
Step 4:

Upgrade your laptop with additional RAM. While Windows 8.1 requires a minimum 2GB of memory, you should consider at least 4GB if you run hungry apps like Photoshop, or if you run multiple apps at the same time. When Windows runs low on available memory, it makes up for the shortage by using virtual memory on the hard drive, which drains much more power when running than when idle.

Install at least 4GB of RAM if you run memory-intensive apps.
Screenshot courtesy of Microsoft.
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Tips & Warnings

  • Avoid exposing your laptop to extreme temperatures. To maintain a good battery life, it should always be as close to room temperature as possible. Storing your laptop near a radiator or leaving it in a car on a cold winter's night can greatly erode battery life.
  • If your laptop has a removable battery, keep the metal contacts clean. For example, Dell recommends cleaning the metal contacts every two months. Wipe the contacts with a lint-free cloth dampened with alcohol and let the alcohol dry before replacing the battery.
  • Some proponents of solid state drives, or SSDs, maintain that they can extend battery life compared to moving hard drive disks, or HDDs. However, the power-savings is only about 10 percent, according to Seagate. Independent tests have shown that while SSDs use less power when active, they consume more power than HDDs when idle, which nullifies most of the power-savings benefit.

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