The computer is now one of the most widely used devices in your house.

The computer is now one of the most widely used devices in your house.

Your computer can eat up quite a lot of energy in your home and/or office. But there are ways to cut down on the power used.

1. Choose Energy Star Appliances

Choose Energy Star appliances for your computer, monitor, printer, and so on. These have all been subject to vigorous testing to make sure they are economical. They will cost more upfront, but will save you the difference between itself and the price of a regular appliance in the long run. Look at the yellow card that should come with each appliance to see just how much you can expect to save.

2. Get a Voltmeter

Find out how much each appliance in your home is actually using by measuring it with a voltmeter. You can buy one online for less than $35.

3. Use a Power Strip

Any appliances with an "always on" feature will use electricity even when switched off. Plug all your computer equipment into power strips and turn off the power strips at the end of each day. Do this for your home entertainment center as well. Once you have plugged everything into a power strip, measure the usage from the strip. Youíll probably be shocked at how much it all add up to.

4. Use Power Save Configurations If Available

Most computers offer a range of power save and screen save configurations. For example, set your computer to screen save if itís been idle for five minutes. There are various other settings such as Sleep and Hibernate. Learn what each choice means in relation to your model of computer.

5. Use a Laptop

One charge of the laptop battery can give you six to eight hours of working time. Use the power save features as well. You will use a fraction of the wattage compared to a desktop.

6. Use Your Smartphone, Tablet or Phablet

The new generation of smartphones can hold a charge all day and enable you to do almost all the kinds of things you will normally do on a desktop computer. Avoid loading up the phone with apps that run in the background to save battery life. Set the sleep mode for five minutes as well.

7. Use a Flat Panel Monitor

The new flat panels use far less power than the old clunky monitors, and take up less space as well. They also look more modern and it is easy to align them if you need more than one screen.

8. Use a Multipurpose Printer

Many printers are multipurpose these days, and can be used as a scanner and even a fax machine if you have it plugged into your phone outlet. A multi-use device will save money because you are only powering one device, not three.

9. Get an External Power Supply with a Surge Protector

Many people worry about turning their computers on and off because of a power surge. The truth is, surges can happen at any time. If the computers at home and/or in the office and the date on them are mission critical, be sure to back up regularly and get an external power supply with a surge protector. The surge protector will work every day. The power supply will work in the event of a power cut or blackout.

The surge protector will usually store enough power to keep you going for about 24 hours, though of course it will depend on how many items are plugged in and how much power they use.

The main feature is that if the power gets cut, you should be able to keep on working without loss of data. There will be a short transition period and then it will kick in. It will recharge itself during the hours when electricity is at its cheapest, overnight.