Real Simpleanswers your questions.

By Julia Edelstein
Updated August 23, 2011
James Baigrie

Q. Should I put my computer to sleep or shut it down when I’m finished using it?

Ginger Reynolds
Wilmington, North Carolina

A. Shut it down. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, running a computer at night is akin to leaving on about 10 lightbulbs. You turn off lamps before you go to bed. Why not do the same to your PC? That simple click saves energy and money. For every household computer you shut down, you could cut $10 to $30 off your annual electric bill, estimates Andy Leach, a Best Buy Geek Squad agent in New York City. (That’s enough to buy the Beatles’ White Album on iTunes.) Sleep mode uses less juice than full power, but shutting down has the added benefit of increasing your computer’s functionality, says Randy Gross, the chief information officer of the Computing Technology Industry Association. It gives your hard drive time to cool off (prolonged heat shortens its life span) and allows for automatic software updates. If you just snooze, you lose.