Ubuntu 12.04 has about 2x shorter battery life than OS X on my MacBook Pro 2010. What are the technical reasons for this? Is it because OS X uses some hidden firmware features? Can Linux somehow emulate OS X power saving behavior?
The most likely cause is that the drivers you are using are not effectively managing power. For example, the open source drivers for Broadcom wifi and Nvidia graphics are known to lack adequate power management.
I managed to match the power consumption under OS X on my Macbook Air by switching to proprietary wifi and Nvidia drivers, turning off bluetooth, and using
I can't give you a scientific answer all I can say is that every program that uses CPU cycles will drain the battery.
You could look in your logs and system statistics which also has power metric tools and figure out which processes are eating up your battery and go from there.
Also you could contribute ideas here http://brainstorm.ubuntu.com/ideatorrent/submit/
Also post your findings or benchmarks.