We’re apparently wasting £134 million a year by overcharging our gadgets, according to a study by energy firm Eon. Do you leave your mobile phone or laptop plugged in well after it’s fully charged?
Eon’s study found that one in five of us leaves our devices plugged in even after the battery is full because we’re scared of running out of power when we leave the house. Another one in ten of us are simply too lazy to pull the plug.
I’m guilty of overcharging, especially when it comes to my beloved netbook. I have a one-and-a-half hour commute from Sussex (each way) to Which?’s London HQ and pass the time by trying to write the book I’ve been working on. So I always make sure it’s plugged in as soon as I get home and just unplug it when I leave.
On occasion the plug’s come loose from the wall at home and I’ve run out of charge on my way in. It’s not critical, but without this distraction the journey does seem to take twice as long. To me a charged netbook is essential, and if that means leaving it plugged in, so be it.
Overcharging won’t give you more power
In reality there’s no need for me to overcharge my netbook at all. On a full charge it’ll last for two full days’ worth of journeys – around six hours – a massive leap from the 1.5 hours of my first portable device (a Toshiba Libretto).
So why is it that, like me, 41% of those surveyed by Eon are overcharging their laptops? I suspect that part of the answer lies in the fact that a laptop’s battery barely lasts as long as we expect it to, or as long as manufacturers claim it will.
Still, overcharging isn’t going to buy you any more time – if anything it’ll degrade the performance of your laptop’s battery faster, not to mention the estimated £60 per year Eon says you’re racking up on your energy bill.
Alternatives to overcharging
Eon’s survey reveals that 46% of us would stop overcharging our gadgets if we were aware of the savings we could make. But for me it’s as much about ensuring I have enough travelling time with my netbook as it is about saving money. Call it paranoia if you will!
There are, however, other strategies you can use to save battery life on your laptop. We recently listed some battery saving tips in our Which? Computing magazine, including lowering your screen’s brightness and switching off wi-fi. You can find a selection of these tips on the Which? Tech Daily blog.
As for me, I’m going to make a New Year’s resolution to stop overcharging my netbook – though I’ll be keeping a spare charger in the office as well as at home… just in case.