It’s a popular myth that reading something online is far more environmentally-friendly than reading something printed on paper. After all, by reading online you’re saving trees being cut down, you’re saving the production and use of unpleasant inks and you’re eliminating the waste that comes from having to dispose of that printed material once you’ve finished with it.
Sounds good so far – but one common element which doesn’t receive enough emphasis is that both your home computer that you use to surf the internet and the web servers which run all the websites you love to visit on a regular basis use a lot of energy to function.
Every time you read an article, carry out a search through Google or log onto Facebook you’re fuelling that need for additional energy so clearly any way we can reduce the energy that this process requires and “green” the rest is a good thing.
We’ve talked recently about eco web hosting (which this site runs on) as a way to make your website more carbon neutral but today I’d like to tell you about a nifty little tool I just came across to reduce the energy that looking at your website uses.
Online Leaf is a free tool which works on a timer. When someone visits your website but then carries out no action for a period of time because they have nipped off to the toilet, or to make a cup of tea, or because the phone rang, Online Leaf kicks into action.
After a period of inactivity on a website Online Leaf temporarily turns off any fancy animations on your website that use unnecessary energy to run and covers your website in a black “energy saving” screen. In most cases a dark screen requires far less energy than a lighter screen or one with all sorts of videos, animations and bells-and-whistles so you’ll be saving power for your site visitors on autopilot.
Even better, as soon as your visitor returns to their computer and takes any action such as moving their mouse, the black screen disappears like magic and your website looks and functions just like it did before so it in no way impacts your user experience.
To me this little tool seems like an obvious choice for anyone who cares about the environment – and it’s free too. I’ve installed it here on Eco Living Advice and I’m also in the process of having my tech guy install it on the other blogs I currently run – why don’t you do the same?