Should I turn my router off to save money?

By | October 24, 2022
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With electricity bills going through the roof, there’s been a lot in the press lately about ways to save energy… and money. One of the most obvious ways to do that is to make sure all the flashing, bleeping gadgets around your home are actually off when you go to bed.

There are a few major culprits that I strongly recommend you turn off fully when you’re not using them:

TVs: TVs generally aren’t very efficient in standby.  So each time you turn yours off, try to use the physical “off” button on the device, or unplug it at the wall rather than just putting it into standby with the remote control.  But one of the biggest power drains on any appliance is the screen.  So if you leave the TV on in the background when you’re not really watching it, that’s a big drain on power!  If you like to have something on in the background during the day, a radio uses a lot less electricity.

Computers: PCs, laptops and macs all have power-saving “sleep” modes that you can either choose to put them in or that they go into automatically to save electricity. Putting a computer to sleep is definitely better than leaving it fully on – it turns off the screen for one, which makes a massive difference – but it will still use power. I’ve accidentally left my work laptop in sleep mode and only realised when I’ve heard a loud whirring noise coming from my office on my way up to bed. It was the fan kicking in, so my computer must have been pretty busy doing something!

Chargers: Although it’s important to leave your phone or tablet plugged in and turned on for a good few hours once a week so it can do updates and sort out any problems, I don’t recommend you do it every day. For two reasons. When you leave a device turned on and plugged into a charger, it’ll draw more power every time the battery level starts to drop slightly – and that’s just wasteful. But it’s also bad for your battery. Ideally, you should unplug your phone or tablet before the battery charge gets to 100%.

Most other devices that you could unplug, it’s not really worth the bother. Things like microwaves, washing machines and dishwashers use very little power when they’re not in use and their plugs are often hard to reach. It’ll do no harm to turn them off if you want to, though – except you’ll have to reset any clocks on them each time if a flashing 00:00 bothers you!

One device I don’t recommend you turn off, though, is your internet router.

Routers are designed to stay on all the time, and turning yours off each night could cause a few issues. If you have a traditional broadband connection (rather than full-fibre from a company like Virgin), turning off your router each night is likely to slow down your internet connection. An automatic system on copper broadband lines will kick in to slow it right down, because it thinks your connection is a bit wobbly.

Routers also get important updates early in the morning – often in the early hours – and if yours isn’t on then, it might not receive the update. Or you might have to wait around for half an hour while it does the update after you turn it on in the morning.

The power drain from them is pretty low as appliances go, so in my opinion, it’s just not worth it.

Julie Wakeling

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