Windows 8.1's Power Settings and Sleep

Windows 8.1 has been designed so that it doesn’t need to be turned off. That’s a bit of an overstatement. Sometimes you have to re-start your computer to let patches kick in. Sometimes you’re going to be gone for a week and need to give the beast a blissful rest.

But by and large, there isn’t a whole lot of reason for shutting off a Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 computer — the power management schemes are very green.

The only power setting most people need to fiddle with is the length of time Windows allows before it turns the screen black. On the desktop, that’s tied in with the screen saver because activating a screen saver may keep the computer going for a long time. Here’s the easy way to adjust your screen blackout time:

  1. Right-click any empty part of the desktop and choose Personalize.

    Windows brings up the Personalization dialog box.

  2. In the lower-right corner, choose Screen Saver.

    You see the Screen Saver Settings dialog box.

  3. In the lower-left corner, click the link to Change Power Settings.

    Windows shows the Power Options dialog box.

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  4. Choose one of the power options.

    The only substantial difference between Balanced and Power Saver, on a desktop computer, is the length of time Windows waits before turning the screen black: With the Balanced plan, it goes out in ten minutes; with the Power Saver plan, it goes out in five minutes. They both spin down the hard drive after 20 minutes.

    If you want to look at the details, click one of the links to Change Plan Settings.

  5. Close out of the Power Options dialog box by clicking X.

    Your changes take effect immediately.

Although Microsoft has published voluminous details about the power down and power up sequences, including the new sleep state, there seem to be no details about how long it takes before your PC actually goes to sleep. In theory, that shouldn’t matter too much because the wake-ups are so fast.

Microsoft recently published some recommendations. To truly conserve energy with a desktop computer, be aggressive with the monitor idle time (no longer than two minutes), and make sure that you don’t have a screen saver enabled. If you want to conserve energy with a notebook or netbook, your top priority is to reduce the screen brightness!

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