ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Can turning Google's background black save power? Hardly.

Updated on June 27, 2020

Blackle's Claim

Blackle is a website that utilizes a customized Google search bar. The website asserts that it is exactly like Google except that it uses a black background instead of a light colored background. This first claim is questionable.

The second claim is that a computer monitor requires more energy to display a white pixel than a black pixel. This amount of energy is minimal, as admitted by the Blackle authors. They insist that there would be significant energy savings if all the millions of screens that look at Google every day used Blackle instead.

Firstly, color is not the only difference between Google and Blackle. Any search through Blackle uses Blackle's servers before querying Google's servers. That means a little extra bit of bytes being transferred. It's not much, but neither is the energy savings.

Secondly, home studies suggest that LCD monitors have a negligible power savings between displaying dark screens or light screens. I say negligible because the variance from one monitor to another is a wider spread of kilowatt-hours than the savings on any particular monitor.

For more details and to see the science (which is the cool and important part) see the links section.

Why lie or exaggerate the benefits of Blackle?

Every time a person uses Blackle, Google shares potential revenue from programs like AdWords with the Blackle site owners. By routing thousands of users through Blackle under the pretense of energy conservation, the Blackle team gets a big cash bonus in their AdSense account.

Anybody with an AdSense account can make money in this way.

The frontpage counter shows how many kilowatt-hours have been saved by using Blackle even though this is an impossible calculation. There are variables which are simply unattainable from Blackle's point of view so this is by necessity only an approximation of the energy saved assuming everybody is using the same monitor that saves the same amount of energy while the Blackle screen is up. Furthermore, it assumes the Blackle screen is maximized even though the counter probably continues at the same pace regardless of how much of my monitor is occupied by the Blackle window.

Incidentally, it may be unfair to say they're lying. It would be more apt to say the site exaggerates the benefits of the Black display color, misrepresents the Roberson et al study, and provides a front page approximation as if it were literal fact.


Energy savings for CRT monitors displaying white and black screens might still be significant. But an LCD monitor displaying any color is using far less power than a CRT monitor displaying a dark screen. If you're concerned about energy savings, use LCD over CRT. Also, turn off your monitor when you're not using it.

While we're at it, we might as well mention that power management is useful, but screensavers are not. Also, Unplugging things from the wall is even better than turning it off since the plug still drains energy even if the device is not on.

Roberson et al

The Roberson et al study that Blackle cites in its About section specifically states on page 7 that over half of the computer monitors used in the test were CRT monitors. This is a strange choice since LCD monitors dominate three quarters of the market (despite the fact that they have been commerically available for less than half the amount of time that CRT monitors have been).

Page 19 concedes "it appears that display color is a significant determinant of on power for CRTs, but not for LCDs." So this is pretty open and shut exaggeration on Blackle's part. To imply that we can all save energy by using Blackle is dangerously close to lying when the report Blackle cites clearly says that LCD monitors (which most of us have) show no significant change between colors.

The study is well performed, but the sample size is as limited as the studies I link to at the top of this page. And the sampling is not representative of the global average of Blackle or Google users.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)