How to maximize your laptop’s battery life during web browsing

June 6, 2013 By | Add a Comment

In my earlier blog post, I discussed how to minimize power consumption during video playback such as YouTube. This blog post will discuss how to minimize power consumption when you visit non-video sites.

Web browser is the most power consuming application on many laptops

Even if you don't spend a lot of time at video site, web browser is the most power consuming application for many laptop users today. Many applications are now online, and each website is more dynamic and complex than before. So, the importance of minimizing power consumption during web browsing is higher than ever.

How do non-video websites affect your laptop's battery life?

Web browsers consume battery power for two main reasons.

  1. To fetch page data from the server and renders them to the browser window.

    More battery power is consumed as the data on the web page increases.

  2. To handle dynamic elements on the page such as animation, video or ticker.

    Web browser will keep consuming battery power until you leave that page.

The chart below (Chart 1) shows how modern web pages increase battery power consumption. The first bar shows the power consumption of the entire laptop when a static (good old text only) page is opened. The second bar shows when browsing top fifteen popular news sites.

As you can see, the latter consumes almost 40% more power (or 40% less battery life) than the static web page.

What can you do to reduce the battery life?

The easiest thing you can do is to install so-called Ad Blocker program to your web blower. Main purpose of these programs is to reduce visual effects of annoying advertisements, but as a side effect, they also help to reduce power consumption by:

  • Reducing the amount of data downloaded from the server

    Many of today's advertisements use pictures and videos. This means their data size is larger than before. You can significantly reduce the amount of the data downloaded from the server by blocking advertisements.

  • Reducing the dynamic contents

    Dynamic advertisements such as video and animations keep consuming battery power until you navigate to another page or close the browser window.

The chart below (Chart 2) shows how much Ad Blocker helps to reduce the battery power consumption. The Ad Blocker used in this experiment is AdBlock for Google Chrome browser.

6% may not be an impressive number, but it's not bad at all if you can get it with almost no effort or drawback.

For further power saving

AdBlock, by default, eliminates only advertisements, but you can manually configure it to eliminate any element on the web page. You can use it to eliminate unnecessary dynamic element (even if it is not an advertisement) on the web page you frequently visit and can get additional battery life.

For example, as of this writing, US edition of the Huffington Post website (www.huffingtonpost.com) has a ticker (scrolling text) near the top of its home page. It may look trivial, but has a huge impact on the battery life. As you can see in the chart below (Chart 3), you can save more than 30% of battery power by blocking it.

All you need to do is the following. It doesn't take more than a few seconds.

  1. Right click on the element you want to block.
  2. Select “AdBlock” » “Block this ad” in the pop-up menu.
  3. Adjust the slider and select the appropriate level. Usually, the leftmost position that hides the element is a good choice.

In addition to tickers, following elements are good candidates to block for better battery life.

  • Animations, videos (regardless of the size)
  • Slide shows
  • Social media widgets

If they are not important for you, go ahead and block them. I hope you will be pleasantly surprised at the result.

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