click to enlarge Consumer tips for buying a PC
Table of contents
- Use your computer for as long as possible.
- Check whether your computer can be repaired or upgraded before buying a new one.
- Buy used devices if possible..
- Pay attention to energy efficiency and energy consumption when buying a new computer.
- Use the energy-saving functions and switch off the computer properly after use.
- If it is no longer repairable: dispose of your old equipment at the municipal collection point or the take-back points in the trade.
Most of the climate-damaging emissions in the life of a computer are caused by its manufacture. In addition, the devices contain valuable raw materials such as precious metals, the extraction of which is very harmful to the environment and sometimes also to workers. Therefore, our most important recommendation is: Use your computer as long as possible. With some tips on usage and purchase, you can save money and protect the environment.
Use for a long time instead of buying new: There are three things you can do to make an old computer faster again:
- Remove "data junk" and use software tools that make your system more efficient. They detect weak points, ensure a faster start, remove unnecessary entries in the "registry" (registry database) and help to use the operating system optimally.
- Increase the performance of your computer by specifically replacing individual components. If you upgrade the RAM and the hard disk, you can use your device for many more years at a low price. Further retrofitting options are available in the form of external drives, for example external hard disks or SD card readers.
- Switch to an open source operating system: upgrading a computer is not limited to hardware alone. Economical Linux operating systems are available for download on the Internet. The advantage over a new purchase: Without a cent of additional costs, the computer is fully usable again. Because the free open-source operating systems such as Linux get along well with older devices and at the same time provide up-to-date software packages. You can find tips and instructions in many Internet forums.
Buy low energy consumption:
When buying new equipment, make sure you choose the right PC or laptop for your needs. You pay twice for oversized computers: in the purchase and in the electricity costs. The more powerful a computer is, the higher its power consumption usually is as well. It is therefore worth considering exactly which processor performance and screen dimensions will meet the needs of the next few years before buying. In addition to traditional desktop PCs and notebooks, there are so-called "compact desktop PCs" (mini PCs).
- Desktop PCs have the more powerful components for some applications, especially graphics processing and computer games. They offer a long technical lifespan, as they are easy to upgrade and repair. However, they require more space due to the housing and have a higher energy consumption, since the components are not optimized for battery operation.
- Compact desktop PCs (also called mini PCs) save space and energy costs by using efficient notebook technology. However, they cannot be upgraded as easily as desktop PCs. And the performance range is also lower, for example, mini PCs often have fewer external interfaces.
- Notebooks are optimized in terms of hardware and software for long battery life, which makes them particularly energy-efficient. If one works longer at the computer, however, a separate (additional) screen, keyboard and mouse are recommended because of the ergonomics, as it is prescribed at the workplace for occupational safety reasons anyway. In addition, the technical service life is usually shorter than that of desktop PCs. We recommend that you purchase a notebook if it is really to be used on the move.
The power consumption of a computer is most influenced by the processor, graphics card, monitor and power supply unit. In principle, these components should therefore correspond to the actual usage requirements and not be oversized. This forward-thinking purchasing strategy not only reduces energy consumption and purchase costs in the long run, but also limits⁠greenhouse gas⁠emissions for manufacturing.
Buy monitor of the right size: A screen that is too small is tiring when working for long periods of time. But it should not be too big either. Keep in mind that the energy consumption of the monitor is often higher than that of the computer. In addition, the environmental impact of its manufacture and the power consumption increase with its size. Screens often appear smaller in the electronics store than they do on your desk at home.
Pay attention to the energy efficiency label: Once you have decided on the type of device that is right for you, you can further reduce energy consumption and thus electricity costs if you buy a particularly energy-efficient computer. You can use the Blue Angel, the Energy Star or the TCO-certified seal of approval as a guide. You can find more buying tips at EcoTopTen and at DENA (German Energy Agency).
Use the energy saving function: Every computer and also many monitors have energy-saving settings that users can activate. This ranges from adjusting the brightness of the monitor to the computer’s energy-saving mode, which automatically puts the device to sleep during work breaks. A modern PC including monitor or a notebook then only needs a few watts or less. The settings can usually be found in the control panel and "power options" or similar terms. With a few clicks you can influence the energy consumption of your computer and monitor as well as your electricity bill.
Disconnect the computer from the mains: Disconnect the computer from the mains, as computers usually consume electricity even when switched off (stand-by). The easiest way to do this is to use a disconnectable power strip.
Dispose of properly: Electrical appliances must be disposed of separately at the end of their life, especially because of the possible impact on the environment and human health, as well as the recovery of recyclable materials. To fulfill this legal obligation, consumers can take their discarded electrical and electronic equipment to municipal collection points free of charge – for example, to recycling centers or the mobile hazardous waste collection service.
Dealers with a sales area for electrical and electronic equipment of at least 400 square meters are also obliged to take back free of charge small old appliances whose edge length does not exceed 25 centimeters (e.g. B. razor, clocks, remote control). If your waste electrical equipment is larger than 25 centimeters (z.B. If you have a washing machine, television, printer), the retailer is obliged to take it back free of charge when you buy a new appliance of the same type. If you have a new appliance delivered (to your home) and would like your old appliance to be taken away in return, you must inform the retailer of this when concluding the purchase agreement. The same also applies to mail-order companies that have a storage and shipping area of at least 400 square meters for electrical appliances. These can, for example, offer free return options or cooperate with bricks-and-mortar retailers. Smaller retailers or manufacturers may also voluntarily take back waste electrical equipment free of charge – it’s best to ask them about this. If necessary, find out about the nearest drop-off points on the Internet.
In some cases, it is difficult to determine whether the product is an electrical device (e.g. pedelec, garden tools, massage chairs, charging cables, flashlights, printer cartridges, etc.).). Manufacturers of electrical appliances are therefore obliged to label their products accordingly. You can recognize electrical appliances by the crossed-out waste garbage can on the product, the packaging or the instructions for use. In the case of battery-operated devices, the batteries and rechargeable batteries should – as far as possible – be removed beforehand and then disposed of, for example, in the battery collection boxes in the shops. Functioning devices can be used again via second-hand goods exchanges or houses and thus help to reduce the amount of waste.
What else you can do:
- A powerful graphics card consumes significantly more power than the standard built-in cards – you only need it if you use 3D applications such as games..
- When making your choice, remember that your device should be usable for as long as possible. Therefore pay attention to high quality, robustness and exchangeability of the components. Use the "Blue Angel" as a guide.
- Check whether a used PC is an option for you or whether you can upgrade your old device. Because the production of a new computer causes large amounts of climate gases.
- Look out for the "Blue Angel" label, if you purchase a monitor or keyboard.
- Disconnect your computer from the mains after switching it off (for example, with a power strip), because otherwise the power supplies will continue to consume some power. This also applies to the charger of your notebook.
- If you use your notebook on your desk at home, save the battery by removing it – if possible – during stationary use.
- On the iFixit website you can find repair instructions for many devices, including notebooks and PCs.
- If you don’t use a notebook anymore, but don’t want to sell or give it away yet, charge the battery about halay before putting the notebook in the closet. The battery loses its charge over time, and draining it completely will harm the battery. Recharge the battery after six months at the latest. The same is true for backup battery and powerbank. Advice on how to handle lithium-ion batteries can be found on our advice page on lithium batteries.
- Refrain from using screen savers. They are pretty, but use more power than if the screen is simply dimmed when inactive and the computer goes into sleep mode.
- Sometimes you hear as an energy-saving tip that you should display light-colored text on a black background (for example, when word processing) instead of black text on a light background. But this does not apply to the usual LCD screens. With them, the background is constantly illuminated as long as the screen is active. Whether the screen pixels in front of the background are light or dark has no influence on the power consumption.
- Please also note our tips for "surfing".
Source: European Commission Blue Angel
Source: Blue Angel
Source: TCO Development
Environmental situation: A look at the life cycle of computers shows that the manufacture of new computers in particular is responsible for high emissions of greenhouse gases. The Federal Environment Agency has analyzed the life cycle of computer workstations in several studies. The study examined the amounts of greenhouse gases produced in the individual steps from manufacturing to disposal or recycling. The result shows that the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions occurs during production. Depending on the lifespan and type of device, this can be over 80%. An important criterion for a climate-friendly (and cost-efficient) purchase of a computer is therefore its longevity and durability. From an environmental point of view, however, it only makes sense to switch to newer and more economical devices when the old computers are no longer functional.