What is Blackle? It’s a Heap Media-owned search engine like Google, but with a black screen instead of a white screen. Why? According to Mark Ontkush of the ecoIron blog, “an all white web page uses about 74 watts to display, while an all black page uses only 59 watts.” Now Google gets about 200 million queries a day. Ontkush figures that if the average query is displayed for 10 seconds, that’s 550,000 hours per day on desktops around the world. And remember, that’s not hits, that’s only queries, so the time spent looking at a Google screen could be much higher. That’s 15 watts less per query, which he states would equal a global savings of 8.3 Megawatt-hours per day. Ontkush’s math and figures have been debated by multiple sources, but if his numbers are accurate, that could mean anywhere from 750 mwh to 1,500 mwh per year. And that would mean we’re saving money and using less fossil fuels.
Why are people debating?
Ontkush’s figures are based largely on cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors (and yes, that’s cathode ray tubes like in old-fashioned TVs), which comprise only about 25% of monitors used around the world. And CRTs, which are slowly being phased out, are used more widely in China and Latin America than in the United States. This study from Techlogg.com showed that Onkjush’s numbers for CRT monitors is pretty accurate; however, the power savings drops substantially with more popular liquid crystal display (LCD) monitors. In fact, monitors 22 inches or smaller actually use a few more watts with Blackle, while monitors 24 inches or larger generally (although not always) save anywhere from 1 to 4 watts with Blackle.
(It’s important to note that for this study, four CRT monitors, 23 LCD monitors were tested. Zero plasma display monitors were tested; according to ecoIron, their power consumption is similar to that of CRTs. No Organic Light Emitting Diode [OLED] monitors were tested, but it’s commonly held that OLEDs are more energy efficient than the other three models mentioned.)
What can be learned from this? If you’re using an old-fashioned monitor, blackle or google’s own darkoogle, can save you precious watts. And in the long term could save you money and save that little piece of real estate we like to call planet Earth. If you’re using an LCD monitor 22 inches or smaller, stick with regular google and you won’t cost yourself valuable watts.
Now some of you may be thinking, “Captain, why did you tell me all of this if you don’t want me to change a darn thing?”
1) For some, the change would benefit you. 2) You can find even more, simple power saving tips—regardless of what sites you surf on the company dime, like turning off your PC at night and disabling your screensaver—in this article, also from Techlogg. 3) This may not be the way you’ll save your company millions of dollars and finally earn that free copywriter’s trip to historic Williamsburg, Va., but thinking differently might be what saves a few dollars, your budget, and the planet. Think outside the box people, or as I like to say, “Think outside the hexagon.”*
*copyright 2008, Captain Awesome, Inc. LLC
-Captain Awesome, Project Specialist
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