young woman using smartphone while charging it

Many of us are addicted to our mobile phones. We spend hours a day texting, searching social media feeds, playing games, responding to emails, organizing our calendars, and shopping. Some people automatically whip out their phones at stoplights or in the checkout line. In fact, the average person spends over four hours a day on their device.

Although these phones are relatively efficient, their energy usage use does add up. Let’s explore some simple ways to save energy and conserve battery life with our mobile phones.

Turn Off Your Phone at Night

Unless you use your phone as an alarm clock or want to be available for emergencies, turn off your phone at night while you sleep. This also reduces your exposure to radiation which can be especially strong if you sleep with the phone near your head. If you do use your phone as an alarm clock, put it in airplane mode to reduce your energy consumption and exposure to radiation. You won’t miss anything and will sleep better.

Turn Off Vibration

Although this is certainly a useful feature when you need to turn off the ringer, vibration does use more energy than a ringtone. The phone must use small motors to shake the device. When it’s not necessary, turn off vibration mode to save energy.

Dim Your Screen

The brighter the screen setting, the more power it uses. The auto-brightness settings help your phone automatically adjust, taking both readability and energy use into account. If you use the auto-brightness setting, remember that in full sunlight the phone will use more energy. So, in addition to dimming your screen, choose when you will read to minimize power consumption.

Close Unnecessary Apps

Although smartphones have the ability to multitask and have a bunch of apps open at one time, it does suck extra juice. If you don’t need an app open, get in the habit of closing it for great energy efficiency. Many phones now ship with an app that monitors the activity of all apps on the phone and automatically turns off, or asks you if it can turn off, apps running in the background.

Turn Off GPS

Some apps constantly track our whereabouts using GPS. Although this is important when using a navigation app, it is often unnecessary for others. Turn off the GPS feature and activate it when you need it. For example, at night when the phone is charging on a table it does not need the GPS capability, so turn it off.

Deactivate Wi-Fi and Bluetooth When Not in Use

Like GPS, having Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled sucks energy when searching for a signal. Although these are helpful features, you can easily turn them off to save energy when you don’t need them. If you happen to be in a place where you have no signal, switch the phone into airplane mode to save energy.

Disable Unneeded Notifications

Notifications cause the screen on the phone to light up, make a sound, and even vibrate. Of course, some notifications are very useful, but others can be bothersome. Deactivate any unneeded notifications to save energy — and to avoid annoying interruptions. The best way to start this practice is to disable all notifications to see what information you miss, then turn those notifications on. We think you will find there are a lot of notifications you can do without.

Protect Your Phone From Excessive Heat & Cold

Although the lithium-ion battery in your mobile phone can operate in a wide range of temperatures, excessive heat and cold hinder its performance. Avoid having your phone in below-freezing temperatures and super hot environments — such as a closed car in hot sunshine.

Decrease Screen Timeout

The screen display uses a lot of electricity. Having the screen turn off when not in use helps conserve energy. Change the settings to make the screen turn off more quickly when idle. A 30-second timeout, which takes effect after a half-minute of no screen interaction, is enough to see an alert or check an email before shutting off.

This article was originally published on June 24, 2019.

By Sarah Lozanova

Sarah Lozanova is an environmental journalist and copywriter and has worked as a consultant to help large corporations become more sustainable. She is the author of Humane Home: Easy Steps for Sustainable & Green Living, and her renewable energy experience includes residential and commercial solar energy installations. She teaches green business classes to graduate students at Unity College and holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio Graduate School.