My Blackle Energy Consumption Experiment

Written on 11:14:00 AM by S. Potter

I received a forward from a contact earlier today touting the energy savings of using Blackle instead of Google to search. My immediate thought was surely there would be no difference for an LCD monitor, or would there? I can, of course, see for CRT monitors energy savings are highly likely. The following is the energy saving content from the email forward I received:

We probably all use google several times a day - here's something to consider: When your screen is white, be it an empty word page, or the Google page, your computer consumes 74 watts, and when its black it consumes only 59 watts. An article about the energy saving that would be achieved if Google had a black screen, taking into account the huge number of page views, worked out at a saving of 750 mega watts/hour per year. In a response to this article Google created a black version of its search engine, called Blackle, with the exact same functions as the white version, but with a lower energy consumption, check it out: http://www.blackle.com
Since I work for a very energy conscious firm and I have been cycling or walking EVERYWHERE around town this summer (except I allow myself use of my car one afternoon a week maximum), I was curious and had to get to the bottom of it.

Hypothesis

There will not be any significant change in power usage (aka wattage) when viewing Google.com in my web browser versus viewing Blackle.com in the same web browser window. (I must confess I already knew how LCD monitors worked before conducting this experiment, but there are a surprising number of people who do not believe the backlight of an LCD monitor is on for the entire LCD regardless of what is being shown - ignorance is bliss for some).

Conditions

  • Dimensions of browser on screen must remain constant for both page views
  • Power reader is monitored for 30 seconds while each page is being displayed and all reading changes will be noted

Equipment

  • P3 Kill-A-Watt reader (x1)
  • 17" Dell LCD monitor (x1)
  • [Indirectly used] Dell workstation (x1)
  • Cell phone (to time page view durations)

Preparation

  1. Power off LCD monitor and unplug from power supply
  2. Plug in power reader into power supply and plug LCD monitor plug into power reader socket
  3. Select power reading (can choose from voltage, power and current "real-time" readings)
  4. Record initial "power off" reading
  5. Power on LCD monitor
  6. Record initial "power on" reading

Method

  1. Open web browser and maximize window
  2. Surf to http://google.com
  3. Start cell phone timer as soon as page is loaded
  4. Monitor power reading for 30 seconds and note any changes to reading
  5. In same web browser window surf to http://blackle.com
  6. Start cell phone timers as soon as page is loaded
  7. Monitor power reading for 30 seconds and note any changes to reading

Results

Initial "power off" reading: 0W (zero Watts) Initial "power on" reading: 20W (twenty Watts) after 3-4 seconds Google reading: started at 20W, no change for 30 seconds, ended at 20W. Blackle reading: started at 20W, no change for 30 seconds, ended at 20W.

Analysis

As we can see there was no significant change in the reading (to stated equipment error of plus or minus 0.2%). Therefore our hypothesis is shown to hold in this experiment using the equipment identified above and I conclude that Blackle has next to zero impact on energy consumption of LCD monitors. The good news is that my LCD monitor consumes much less than Blackle's claim of 50-75 Watts regardless of the search engine presentation I use!:)

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5 Comments

  1. Sanjay John G. |

    You might want to note that Blackle is just the first page of www.searchincolor.com, a site which has offered google search in color since a very long time. There are other color combinations on searchincolor which are energy saving..in general a dark background with light text-which are also energy saving and better than the standard white background.

    John

     
  2. S. Potter |

    Sanjay: No offense, but you seem to have next to no understanding of how LCD technology works. As demonstrated above with HARD numbers there is no difference for the vast majority of monitors (since almost nobody uses CRTs). You are also very misleading in your statement: "You might want to note that Blackle is just the first page of www.searchincolor.com, a site which has offered google search in color since a very long time." They are NOT legally affiliated with Google, Inc! They may provide different presentation views to Google search (although I am not completely sure about that either, just have no proof yet), but they certainly do NOT have a legal relationship with Google that supports your intentional misleading statement.

     
  3. Jason |

    It might be also to note that Blackle is also just a custom google search and would have almost no legal affiliation beyond what the terms and conditions of using their custom search. Greygle is another site using the google custom search but uses grey background and dark text. It is following on the idea that people are more accustomed to dark text on a lighter background than light text on a dark background.
    Right now with LCD technology not having any real difference for energy savings, these sites might not be real beneficial. However, there is talk with that the next generations of Plasma and OLED displays, once again white will be a higher energy consumer. If this is true then Blackle and Greygle might have more value.

     
  4. Jason |

    It's been discussed time and time again, a black search portal offers very little in the way of power saving overall. All this site does is generate revenue for it's owners which is put to no good use at all.

    As an alternative search portal try -

    www.regrowgle.com

    Any profits from using this portal are actually put back into environmental projects to cancel out a portion of energy etc that is consumed.

    Hey it's a start, and every little bit counts in my opinion

     
  5. floatingworld |

    Let's remember that the Internet itself is said to consume about 868 billion kWh (kilowatt hours) of electricity per year to run the Internet, associated PCs, routing infrastructure, and phone networks.” (http://uclue.com/index.php?xq=724.)

    But companies are stepping forward with solutions to reduce the energy use of the Internet. Solar Energy Host (http://www.solarenergyhost.com) for example, is hosting websites using 100% solar energy.

     

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