Because of the vast numbers of computers in the world, small changes multiplied over millions of computers can have staggeringly large effects. Our friends over at EcoIron did some back-of-a-napkin calculation to figure out how much energy would be saved if Google's main page was black instead of white. They come up with a savings of $75,000 per year (at 10 cents per kWh) and a reduction of 750 Megawatt-hours of power.
There was a lot of back and forth discussion about this (and a follow-up article as well). The percentage of LCD monitors vs. CRT displays is significant in this because LCD displays don't have the same variability in power use that CRTs do.
The point isn't to get Google to change its stripes (or its background color). Rather, small factors can have a large impact when multiplied out over millions of repetitions or millions of users. We have opportunities to make much more significant changes than this. And if such a small change can make such a big difference, imagine what else can be done.
written by Heidi, April 21, 2008
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