In 2014, 52% of homes in the UK had a tablet, but despite their popularity, laptops are still the UK’s most popular type of computer, appearing in over 80% of homes. Energy consumption by computers, laptops and tablets currently accounts for around 5% of household electricity bills.

Energy requirements are different depending on your type of computer

A desktop PC used for 4 hours per day costs about

£24 per year (= 79kg of CO₂)

A laptop used for 4 hours per day costs around

£7 per year (= 24kg of CO₂)

A tablet fully charged once every 4 days gives 4 hours usage per day and costs

£1 per year (= 3kg of CO₂)

Turn off the monitor when your computer is not in use. Over half of the energy used by the computer goes to the monitor, so turning it off will save up to £12 per year with a desktop computer.

In general it makes sense to run your laptop or netbook off the main electricity supply rather than off the battery. A recent study showed that running off the battery was 20% less efficient, reduces battery life, and costs another £1.40 per year = 5kg of CO₂.

Buy second hand. Plenty of machines are available because many offices and households replace their computers every two years. Many computer retailers and manufacturers now sell second hand reconditioned machines with warranties.

When purchasing a new desktop or laptop computer, search for these money saving and environmentally friendly features.


​Do some research before you buy: many computer manufacturers now offer ‘green’ models that use less energy, have more reusable/rechargeable components, or use recycled material.


When buying a laptop, look for systems comprised completely of 3.3-volt components (processor, memory and LCD). These systems use 40%-50% less energy than 5.0-volt systems, and are generally equipped with a lighter battery.


​Because of the significant carbon footprint of manufacturing a computer, the life of a computer should be extended as much as possible. Re-using a computer can save up to 20% more energy than recycling.

Rather than scrapping your desktop computer, repairing and upgrading is a much better option. It is more difficult with a laptop because most components are on the motherboard however you can still upgrade its memory or RAM. You can even do this yourself. Find out how much memory your computer can take.


Many offices and households replace their computers every 2 years, so retailers and manufacturers now sell second hand, reconditioned machines with warranties.


PC retailers must provide free take back facilities for customers to return old equipment for recycling whenever a replacement item is purchased. Some, such as the chain PC World, will accept old electronics in-store for recycling and reuse if you’re buying a similar product.


Take old computers to your local civic amenity site (visit to find your nearest recycling bank).


Arrange for your local authority to collect equipment (some local authorities provide a free collection service and others charge).


​Arrange for an electrical retailer delivering new equipment to take away the old equipment.