Greener "Surfing" Pastures?

(I published this over at my cliotech blog, but thought I’d also share it with the PA DEN.)

Okay, I admit to my totally contrived blog post title . . . I couldn’t resist.

Who says that we can’t learn from our students? Today, a 7th grade student in my school shared a pretty cool web tip that gave me serious geekbumps

Blackle is a search engine powered by Google, though not officially a licensed Google product. It was inspired by a January 2007 blog posting from Mark Ontkush on his ecoIron blog, Black Google Would Save 750 Megawatt-Hours a Year.

Here is some information from Blackle’ site:

Blackle saves energy because the screen is predominantly black. "Image displayed is primarily a function of the user’s color settings and desktop graphics, as well as the color and size of open application windows; a given monitor requires more power to display a white (or light) screen than a black (or dark) screen." Roberson et al, 2002 We believe that there is value in the concept because even if the energy savings are small, they all add up. 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.

On May 9th, Blackle was the featured site-of-the-day on GeekSugar, though it also appeared on the Energy Roundup at the Wall Street Journal. The WSJ article refuted some of Blackle’s claims:

If dark computer displays use up less energy than white or bright displays, as the Energy Department claims, then it stands to reason that an all-black screen takes less energy to display on a computer monitor than, say, Google’s snow-white welcome screen. In a January 2007 post at the EcoIron blog, Mark Ontkush estimated that Google could save 750 megaWatt hours a year using a totally black screen. Blackle, which is not affiliated with Google, says it was inspired by Ontkush’s post. It claims it has already saved more than five thousand Watt hours (note: this post has been corrected — we earlier wrote that Blackle claimed to have saved five million Watt hours; turns out it’s kind of hard to see a decimal point on a black screen), based ostensibly on Ontkush’s number-crunching about the amount of energy used for each Google search. Energy Roundup does not vouch for the validity of said number-crunching. Paging Numbers Guy. One caveat, though: The energy savings may apply mainly (or fully) to cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors; you may not save nearly as much (or any) energy by switching display colors on an LCD monitor, which already consumes far less energy than a CRT.

So, I’m willing to give it a try. If it does save something . . . it can’t hurt, right?


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