Computer screen colors and energy consumption

Did you know that the color white displayed on a CRT (Cathode Ray Tudbe) computer monitor uses 25% more electricity than when the color black is displayed? The mind boggles.

I really had given no thought to monitors and electricity usage aside from knowing that CRT displays, bigger screens, higher screen resolutions and more powerful video cards did have an impact on power consumption.

The Department of Energy provided the chart below, which shows the basic 16 Windows colors and the amount of electricity each uses when displayed as a solid color on a screen. 

White – 74 Watts Fuchsia – 69 Watts Yellow – 69 Watts Aqua – 68Watts
Silver – 67 Watts Blue – 65 Watts Red – 65 Watts Lime – 63 Watts
Gray – 62 Watts Olive – 61 Watts Purple – 61 Watts Teal – 61 Watts
Green – 60Watts Maroon – 60 Watts Navy – 60 Watts Black – 59 Watts

There’s quite a difference between the various colors.

If you’re a web site designer, here’s a palette of colors outside of the basic 16 found to be the most environmentally-friendly in terms of power usage

If you’ve ever worked on older computers, you’ll know that white text on a black background can make your eyes bleed after a while; so I’m not recommending you run your screen like that :). As for myself, I run 800×600 resolution and use Windows’ Marine color scheme which is just a variety of greens. I didn’t pick this for energy conservation reasons, simply because I spend so many hours in front of a screen each day and I found that continual white backgrounds were getting little harsh. The greens I found to be very easy on my eyes. It’s nice to know I’ve probably saved a little electricity as well as a result. I also use a blank screensaver mainly because, well, I just can’t see the point of using anything else :)

You can certainly make some energy savings when it comes to your screen saver (if you’re using a CRT monitor); instead of tropical islands teasing you, go for plain old black – a watt saved here and there when millions of people do it can really add up. As for actual dollar savings, I don’t think you’ll be exclaiming “wow!” when your next power bill arrives; but every penny counts.

Don’t forget also to take advantage of the various power management features that are available on most modern computers. These settings can shut down your monitor after a specified period, stop your hard driving spinning needlessly when it’s not in use and a variety of other electricity saving options. If you’re a Windows user, these settings can be found by clicking on the Start button, selecting “Control Panel” and then double clicking on Power “Options”.