Google Shines A Light On Blackle’s Inefficiency

    August 9, 2007

When you go into a grocery store, you shut your car off – letting it idle would waste gas (and invite thieves).  When you pause at a stop sign, you leave your car on – restarting it after one second would just waste time and energy.  And although these examples are rather obvious, Google’s now addressing the reasons behind Blackle, a dark search engine and would-be electricity saver.

We first documented Blackle’s existence about a month ago.  At the time, it was believed that CRT monitors would require less power to display the site’s black background, and new testing has confirmed that principle.  But the savings aren’t that impressive, and they’re lost when LCDs are in use.

“We applaud the spirit of the idea, but our own analysis as well as that of others shows that making the Google homepage black will not reduce energy consumption,” writes Bill Weihl, Google’s “Green Energy Czar,” on the Official Google Blog.  “To the contrary, on flat-panel monitors (already estimated to be 75% of the market), displaying black may actually increase energy usage.  Detailed results from a new study confirm this.”

Yet throughout the post, Weihl stresses the importance of efficiency, and he goes on to give several more effective tips (“turn down the brightness on your monitor” might be the least obvious of them).  And lest we all forget – saving energy helps the environment and your pocketbook.

It seems that Blackle’s not the best path to those savings, however.  A good searcher shouldn’t spend much time at the engine itself, anyway, and Blackle’s text is annoyingly difficult to read.