The simple ways to stop needlessly charging your phones, tablets and laptops

Are you charging your devices too much? (Getty)
Are you charging your devices too much? (Getty)

You may not realise, but most of us needlessly charge our phones, laptops and tablets - and it’s not just bad for the planet, it also shortens the life of your device’s batteries.

Most devices benefit from having the battery between 20% and 80%, rather than being charged to full.

Leaving phones needlessly ‘on charge’ also contributes to ‘phantom power’, electricity drawn by devices often while families sleep - which can run up electricity bills, and also contributes to climate change.

Charging a phone (or laptop) to 100% repeatedly will, however, damage the battery over time (as will repeatedly allowing it to discharge to 0%).

Contrary to popular myth, you can’t actually ‘overcharge’ your phone if you leave it on charge overnight.

Smartphones have protective measures which stop the phone charging once it’s at 100% and it’s not possible to overload the batteries.

But keeping it at 100% will damage the batteries, and it’s also a waste of electricity.

Thankfully, there’s a few simple ways to avoid charging gadgets when you don’t need to.

How can new plugs save me money?

Timer plugs are a great way to shut off gadgets when you are asleep - with variable run down timers offering a great way to control which devices charge when.

Smart plugs can also help, with the plugs controllable from your smartphone’s screen so you can ensure everything is switched off before you go to bed.

Different devices also offer specific ways to ensure you’re not needlessly charging them.

Cell phone charging battery. Observing objects inside my home during quarantine by Covid-19. April, 2020.
Overcharging phones and other devices can damage the battery (Getty)

Can changing my settings help?

On iPhones with iOS 13 or later, go to iPhone Settings > Battery > Battery Health & Charging, and select Optimised Charging.

This prevents the phone from charging beyond 80%.

On Android, it’s slightly more complicated, as the menu set-up can vary between devices - try Settings > Battery > and then turn on Battery Care to enable this.

On other devices, it will be under Settings > Battery > Battery Usage. From that menu, select Optimised.

On laptops, you should always ensure to let your machine’s battery run down to 20% at least once a month to help the battery to last longer.

There’s a setting on Macs to help you do this: go to ‘System Preferences’ then ‘Battery Health’, and select ‘Optimised Battery Charging’.’

On Windows 11, search ‘Battery Troubleshooter,’ and Windows will run you through suggested steps to reduce your battery usage.