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How to save energy with your broadband

By Luke Thompson
Friday, August 8th 2014

We all want to cut down on our energy consumption. Whether it’s to help the environment or save on energy bills. But where do you start? Along with your refrigerator and freezer, your broadband router is one of the few devices that needs to be on 24/7.

But don’t just turn it off. This can compromise your broadband connection and there are far better ways to save power. Here are five of our top tips for how to save energy with your broadband.

Use power-saving mode

Many broadband routers come with a power-saving mode. This reduces the amount of energy used while the router is idling. If your router does have this mode, it generally activates automatically – but not always. For example, the BT Home Hub 3’s power-saving mode is manually controlled. This is also the case with the Thomson Technicolor TG582n, supplied by Plusnet and John Lewis Broadband.

Power-saving mode can reduce your power bill

Activating the power-saving mode can reduce the amount of energy consumed by your router and reduce your monthly bill, though it may affect your broadband performance if you leave it enabled when you go online.

Turn off unused Wi-Fi devices

Keeping your wireless broadband router activated all day is great for convenience. If you have several Wi-Fi devices connected to it, you may find that it’s in use pretty much all the time and never switches into power-saving mode.

Wi-Fi devices may update their software automatically if left on

One of the major reasons for this is automatic updating. Many Wi-Fi devices – including smartphones, tablets and videogame consoles – connect to the internet continuously to ensure that updates are immediately downloaded when available. Again, while this is convenient, it makes it difficult to conserve energy.

Turning devices off allows router to go into power-saving mode

Deactivate your Wi-Fi devices when you’re not using them to remedy this situation. This will allow your broadband router to slip into power-saving mode. Turning off your devices also means fewer electronic devices are operating – another way to save energy at home.

Choose a low energy router

Many modern broadband routers come with low energy consumption thanks to the push in energy-saving directives by the European Commission. Old routers are still around however, and they use more energy than modern models, costing you money.

It's worth upgrading from an older model

If you have one of these older models it’s worth upgrading. This will decrease your household’s energy consumption, save you money, and improve your broadband performance. It’s a winner all round.

Use wired connections

Many modern routers feature multiple Wi-Fi antennas, and transmit on one or two signal bands. This creates stronger, more reliable wireless connections. But it also uses more energy than a router that only allows wired connections via Ethernet.

Most routers allow you turn off the wireless antenna

There’s no need to throw out your wireless router for a wired one. Most modern routers feature the option to deactivate their wireless antennas, usually through an administration panel. You can access this by entering your router’s address in your internet search bar. Along with lower power consumption, wired connections are faster and more reliable. So if you don’t mind the presence of cables, going wired can have several benefits.

Don’t turn off your router

Turning off your broadband router might look like the best way to save energy, but it’s actually one of the worst. This is due to Dynamic Line Management (DLM). Regularly turning your router off and on creates the impression that your line is unstable, suggesting to your broadband provider that your line cannot handle the speed currently supplied. Your provider may then lower the speeds you’re receiving to stabilise your connection.

Conclusion

These few tips can help reduce your energy bill. However, while your router is active 24/7, modern models actually use very little power. Keeping a router permanently online for a whole year will only add about £10 to your annual energy bill. But every little helps, and if everyone reduced their router’s energy use it would make a significant impact on the UK’s overall energy consumption.

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