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Friday, January 23, 2009

Does Black Screen Searching Save Power?

Every few months, an idea circulates around the net. I heard it again this week... The Google webpage, as one of the world's busiest websites, uses more energy with a white background than it would if the background were black. This results in a lot of fresh traffic to a site called Blackle.com and a number of similar sites around the world.

This myth grew out of two good ideas. The first was that any minuscule positive change, when repeated on the scale of millions and billions, would result in a great positive change. The second was that black screens use less energy than white screens, hence the source of the minuscule energy difference.

Unfortunately, this doesn't work for most of us. On modern LCD monitors, the energy difference is at best negligible, and according to some reports, black may actually consume more energy than white. On older CRT monitors, there may be some gain, but it is very small compared to the savings by switching to an LCD monitor which uses 1/2 to 2/3 as much energy. Secondly, the savings purportedly measured to date is far less than the original promise suggested. In this case, the small bits that add up don't actually add up to much.

If you find the dark background easier on the eyes, by all means switch. But don't do it for the environmental benefit!
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