Blackle: a “green computing” furphy

Blackle: click to see website

On the surface it sounds great. “A given monitor requires more power to display a white (or light) screen than a black (or dark) screen,” says About Blackle. So if everyone turns Google black we’ll save heaps of energy, because it’s such a widely-used website. At least that’s the theory.

And Sydney-based Heap Media is getting attention because they’ve created Blackle (pictured right), a website which provides that black version of Google.

But as always the devil is in the detail…

  • It’s only old-style CRT monitors which use less energy when displaying darker images. Modern LCD flat-panels use the same power no matter what.
  • Blackle is a front-end onto Google, serving out the adverts and all. So using Blackie adds to the total power consumption. As well as whatever Google uses, you’re also adding in the overhead of routing your requests via Blackle.
  • Currently the Blackle home page claims “115,486.374 Watt hours saved”, up from 113,834.304 Watt hours around this time yesterday. That’s not a lot of electricity. 2kWh is enough to run a small server computer for maybe 4 hours — perhaps 6 if it’s not fully loaded. In other words, Blackle uses 4 or 5 times more energy than it saves.

Still, it’s a great way of getting attention for your business under the banner of “saving the planet”, eh? Plus, having a black background means your site can have that oh-so-current style of having everything look like it’s reflected in some shiny black surface.

10 comments

  1. Angela’s avatar

    I prefer using http://www.Darkoogle.com as their text are green which reduce eye strain. So instead of saving energy from our monitor, it also save our user’s eye energy.

  2. zzkx’s avatar

    Bill Weihl, Google’s “Green Energy Czar” has the following comment about it…

  3. Stilgherrian’s avatar

    @zzkx: What’s also nice is that Google has covered the entire Googleplex with solar panels. I’m not sure about the laser cannons though.

    @no-one in particular: A client told a colleague about Blackle, and she said, “Hey, could we have a pink one for girls? Then we could call it Pinkle!”

  4. Energy Saver’s avatar

    There’s also the Carbon Neutral Search Engine it uses Google Custom Search but offsets a minimum of 100g of CO2 per search

  5. Stilgherrian’s avatar

    @Energy Saver: Apart from that just being a spam comment — it doesn’t really continue the discussion, it just promotes your product — I reckon this “carbon offset” stuff is a load of bunkum. The whole point is that we’re meant to be using less energy to begin with, not just piss away energy as usual (plus a bit more for re-routing Google searches through your website too) and then pay someone to sort it out for us. It’s precisely that latter attitude that got us into this mess in the first place.

  6. Mark’s avatar

    There are around 16 different versions of “black google” online. The best one I’ve found is [spammer’s URL]. [Spammer’s site name] is the only version that allows you to change the text colors of the google search results. Try it yourself by going to [spammer’s URL].

  7. Stilgherrian’s avatar

    @Mark: Yes, and that’s what the world really, truly needs: to be able to display Google search results in different colours. What a waste of time and energy.

  8. Stilgherrian’s avatar

    @Mark: Oh surprise surprise! You’re back this morning with a comment on another post with exactly the same text. That comments has of course been marked as spam for Akismet, and I’ve removed the links from your original comment here. Not that you’ll ever see this, of course, since you’re just a parasite.

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