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Having returned from a pleasant family vacation where the main topic of conversation was a huge tanker being split in two by controlled explosions off the East Devon coast in England, it was nice to get back to reality and discover the nerdfest surrounding how much power could be saved globally if Google switched from a white background to a black one. Of course, this discussion has all the usual scientific merit of previous debates involving improving the audio quality of a CD by using green marker pen along the rim or leaving a window open during a hurricane will equalize the pressure and prevent the roof blowing off.

The claim is that an all white web page consumes around 74 watts of power, an all black one just 59 watts. Based upon this assumption, and extrapolating from it that it Google gets 200 million queries per day and each is displayed for 10 seconds, then in full screen mode if Google was to change from a white to black background it would save 3000 Megawatt-hours every year. A good old fashioned dose of science appears to have quickly headed the way of the author, no doubt mentioning that when it comes to LCD monitors, you k now those ones with a back-light which is on regardless of whether the screen is displaying a black, white or rainbow colored background, the difference equates to, well, absolutely nothing actually. The original posting entitles ‘Black Google Would Save 3000 Megawatt-hours a Year’ has now become ‘Black Google Would Save 750 Megawatt-hours a Year’ based upon a further assumption that only 25% of the monitors in use around the world are of the CRT rather than LCD variety.

Looked at globally, I suspect that might be a little on the conservative side. A contact who works in the display technology industry on the marketing side of things, edits a trade newsletter on display technology and has access to global sales figures assures me that during 2006 the global numbers were 130 million LCD screens sold and 33 million of the CRT variety. Now while that compares nicely to the 25% figure, it only reflects the state of sales of new monitors and not the usage of existing ones. In third world countries, where there is an increased reliance upon charitable donations and second hand equipment for example, the in use percentage is likely to be hugely swayed in the direction of CRT and will remain that way for some time to come.

So perhaps a Black Google is the way to go after all? Google itself does not seem to think so, and has made no announcements on the matter. Heap Media, however, has produced a Google powered search site with a black background called Blackle which in just a couple of days claims to have saved over 100,000 Watt hours. Although you would be excused for thinking it was 100,000,000 Watt hours because readability on a black background site is not exactly brilliant, and certainly cannot match the usual black text on a white background. Google, funnily enough, will no doubt have done plenty of its own usability studies which is just one reason why I doubt there is likely to be any color change any time soon. Blackle, while claiming to be a worthy cause because “every time you load your Internet browser you will save a little bit of energy” which is not true if you are using a LCD display, and that by setting it as your home page and spreading the word to your friends you will be “saving energy one search at a time” for which I refer you to my previous barbed comment, fails to mention that it will also be making money as it is part of a Google Co-op program and so gets a rake of the ad-revenue generated.

Still, if Blackle really cares about the environment perhaps we will be seeing a statement soon about how that money will be used to plant trees and offset the carbon footprint created by recreating a Google search engine on a separate server to Google itself…

As Editorial Director and Managing Analyst with IT Security Thing I am putting more than two decades of consulting experience into providing opinionated insight regarding the security threat landscape for IT security professionals. As an Editorial Fellow with Dennis Publishing, I bring more than two decades of writing experience across the technology industry into publications such as Alphr, IT Pro and (in good old fashioned print) PC Pro. I also write for SC Magazine UK and Infosecurity, as well as The Times and Sunday Times newspapers. Along the way I have been honoured with a Technology Journalist of the Year award, and three Information Security Journalist of the Year awards. Most humbling, though, was the Enigma Award for 'lifetime contribution to IT security journalism' bestowed on me in 2011.

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Last Post by Energy Saver
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The solution is simpe! If you don't like the white background and feel that is destroying the environment then don't visit Google!

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Why aren't the people who arranged this study chewing out, not Google, but people who leave their computers on all night so they don't have to boot them up in the morning? Or if they do, why don't they publish findings about that?:confused:

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Agreed. There are hugely more effective ways to save energy than piddling about with the background color of your web pages...

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Personally i think this whole argument is completely off track from the things we should be doing to save power. Even if we just look at what can be done in the computer world to save energy there are alot more affective things that we can do even if you have an LCD monitor. If the argument is that having a black page on for 10 seconds makes that much of a difference then why not try turning your monitor off when you walk away from it. Also try knocking down the brightness a couple of notches while you are using it.

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Then there is the argument that the power used to debate if a black Google would save power uses more than would be saved even if it did make a difference...

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imho, if they really need to attack a corporate organisation about this greenhouse thing, then it should be microsoft and vista, rather than google's web.

:P

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There are many copycats around but in my opinion greenergle is most userfriedly with its colorcoded search results and smooth design of those alternative styled custom googles.

Also it seems to be targeting on broader audience with its simple consept - 10 easy ways to save energy --> see link below the engine. The core idea is same than others: If we all do it it will make big difference. Also it reminds me everytime I search something of been greener. A nobel idea. Greenering like mad man :D

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I really thought that this was a great idea of trying to save energy when conducting searches on the internet even if it seems flawed. You made en excellent point on people in developing countries who are and will probably still be using CRT monitors. This might be a considerable number and I believe that every bit counts when it comes to helping the environment. Did you know that there is a search site using this concept of a black background and eco-friendly colors? Its called Greenback Search but the really great thing about it is that they are purchasing carbon offsets on behalf of users when searches earn revenue (its powered by Google by the way so results will probably be the same), which is a step ahead of Blackle. I really hope more ideas will emerge on ways to help the environment while using our computers or the internet.

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One Black Google search engine, Blackl, uses 100% renewable energy and small data transfers to save energy. This is helpful as even if the black background does not save much, there are other eco friendly measures in place. Their address is http://www.blackl.com.

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Interesting arguments, but the point of view that a black background can't save any energy is now out of date from what I can tell, at least for mobile phones. On AMOLED based screens you can use multiple times less power with a black background instead of white! OLED based devices are growing in popularity and are in broad use now. Most other popular display types save power too displaying black like CRTs and plasma screens. As for LCDs, many of them do have negligible differences but no harm is done displaying black over white. There's more info on it all at Black Google Mobile which hosts a black Google for phones.

Edited by Green Magic: n/a

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Given the energy required for data transfers I use Google Black. This black google It also uses renewable energy so it's a no brainer for me. A Blackl Google will definitely become better with the new screens that are coming out but they are still a small part of all screens out there.

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