Post I.T. - Washington Post Technology Blog Frank Ahrens Sara Goo Sam Diaz Mike Musgrove Alan Sipress Yuki Noguchi Post I.T.
Tech Podcast
The Bloggers
Subscribe to this Blog

Black Is The New "Green"

Earlier this year, a blogger from Boston mixed some science with some math and came up with a theory that a black background on the main Google search engine page could save 3,000 megawatt-hours every year, assuming Google gets 200 million queries a day and its page is displayed for 10 seconds per visit. I'm no scientist - though I once did get a lesson on LCD-screen technology from some engineers back in Silicon Valley - but the theory, whether or not you believe the numbers, seems to makes sense. And it sounds to me like a lot of energy saved, seeing how the usage at my home for a month is measured in the smaller kilowatts per hour.

An Australian company called Heap Media also bought into the idea and developed a black-back Google search page, called Blackle. It's still Google-powered - I ran it through a few quick search checks and came back with the same results as a Google search. The company has launched a viral marketing campaign - trying to get people to switch to Blackle and help make a difference. "We believe that there is value in the concept because even if the energy savings are small, they all add up," read a statement on the company's black-background site. "Secondly we feel that seeing Blackle every time we load our web browser reminds us that we need to keep taking small steps to save energy."

I'm willing to bookmark the page - but I can't commit to making it my home page. I have a customized iGoogle page where I get news feeds and manage some widgets. But, wait... Just for laughs, I typed an "i" in front of Blackle in the Web address to see what would happen and found what looks like the beginnings of an iGoogle version, complete with (still broken) links to "Images, Videos, News, Maps, More" in the top left corner. It'd be nice to minimize damage to the environment. But I also stumbled upon one other added bonus - after a while, I noticed that the black background was much easier on the eyes.

By Sam Diaz  |  August 3, 2007; 9:25 AM ET  | Category:  Sam Diaz
Previous: A Startup Hits Reality TV | Next: New Xbox 360 Price: Thank Madden


Add Post I.T. to Your Site
Stay on top of the latest Post I.T. news! This easy-to-use widget is simple to add to your own Web site and will update every time there's a new installment of Post I.T.
Get This Widget >>


Comments

Please email us to report offensive comments.



It's an interesting idea, but the actual energy saved is most likely negligible, will decrease as the percentage of LCD monitors increases, and could even result in the use of more energy (in theory).

Why? Well, while CRT-base monitors DO save a marginal amount of energy when displaying black pixels instead of white pixels, LCD monitors actually use slightly MORE energy to display black pixels. The anecdotal testing referenced mentioned that the LCD savings was within the margin of error of the test...but other independent testers have observed a negative result...which is consistent with what one would expect given the underlying LCD technology. Furthermore, LCD monitors represent an ever increasing share of the computer monitor market...75% according to the referenced blogger, Mark Ontkush.

Perhaps a better idea would be to remind everyone to configure their monitors to turn off after their computer is idle for 10 or 20 minutes.

Posted by: Steve | August 3, 2007 11:41 AM

There is some dispute about the energy saving claims of using a black background (see Wikipedia's Blackle.com entry). The biggest problem is that while you do save energy when using CRTs, the savings when using LCDs is minimal to nonexistent. As the majority of screens are now LCD it doesn't make much sense for web sites to start switching over.

Posted by: lofti | August 3, 2007 11:49 AM

bummer! I thought this idea was really cool until I realized I no longer have any non-laptop computers in my house. All laptops = all LCDs.

Posted by: DCer | August 3, 2007 1:03 PM

An interesting idea, good math, and poor research.

An LCD works buy using a backlight which is always on, with the front LCD bit working as a light filter.
- A white pixel is a full-on backlight with the light let through,
- A black pixel is a full-on backlight with no light let through.

Blackle (bloogle?) would save some money if we're talking CRT or plasma screens - but virtualy nothing with LCD displays.

Nice try, though.

Posted by: Jim Mantle | August 6, 2007 10:22 AM

Lots of discussion about this over on Wikipedia. Bottom line is folks using CRTs do save energy, around 7 to 30 watts, but LCD users are questionable, maybe saving only 3 watts and possibly costing up to 1 watt.

There also a difference between Google going black, and using a page like Blackle where you have to set it as your home page. On balance, Google going black probably saves energy because even though the number of CRT are smaller, they consume a ton of energy. There are other issues as well like usability, brand, etc. Setting your home page to Blackle depends solely on your monitor; CRT saves, LCD questionable.

Posted by: Mark Ontkush | August 6, 2007 12:29 PM

Put a power meter inline with your 17" LCD and a 17" CRT and tell me that there is a major difference, there is not. On the home front Plasma TVs of a like size as a CRT consume more power.

Posted by: Fred Dunn | August 8, 2007 11:16 AM

Why are you guys not saying anything to aid about 200,000 former customers of Sunrocket(VOIP) company, who phone numbers are in limbo. Their phone numbers are held hostage by GlobalCrossing.

They have been waiting for weeks to tranfer their numbers to their new providers. Is this still the great United States of America?

Posted by: Help Needed For Former Sunrocket customers | August 9, 2007 4:07 PM

Why are you guys not saying anything to aid about 200,000 former customers of Sunrocket(VOIP) company, who phone numbers are in limbo. Their phone numbers are held hostage by GlobalCrossing.

They have been waiting for weeks to tranfer their numbers to their new providers. Is this still the great United States of America?

Posted by: Help Needed For Former Sunrocket customers | August 9, 2007 4:07 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 

© 2009 The Washington Post Company