Laptop Battery Dying? It Might Be

The front page of the New York Times website just before noon Eastern time on Friday, July 24, 2015.

When you’re away from a power outlet, there are a lot of things you can do to increase your laptop’s battery life, such as turning down the screen brightness, not playing games or shifting to a more efficient power profile.

But few people consider the power demands of specific websites, and, according to Finnish software developer Santeri Paavolainen, there are some major offenders you need to watch out for.

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Paavolainen took a 2013 Apple Retina MacBook Pro, with screen brightness set to 50 percent, and used Google Chrome (with Adobe Flash Player disabled) to visit major English-language websites, including Forbes, New Scientist, The Guardian, The New York Times, Google, YouTube and the BBC, while recording the power draw while displaying each site.

He found is that low-power sites (consuming around 10 watts), which included  Google, Forbes and the BBC, drew less than one-quarter of the power sucked down by high-power sites such as that of The New York Times, which Paavolainen measured at just under 50 watts -- not much less than an ordinary incandescent light bulb.

While Paavolainen refrained from pointing out specific causes for the New York Times website's inefficiency, he was surprised to discover that video-streaming sites such as Vimeo and YouTube, which are often blamed for taxing batteries, required 50 percent less energy than did the Times' site.

Fifty watts is often enough to raise the temperature inside your computer, which causes the fans in your computer to spin up, leading to increased noise and using up yet more battery life.

If you consider the millions of people who visit the New York Times site every day, the wasted power starts to add up quickly. Not only are inefficient sites a drain on your computer’s battery, but if left unchecked, they could add a substantial amount to global electricity usage.

For full results, you can visit Paavolainen’s site here.