Time to ditch those screen savers
Several years ago, we were working with a Fortune 500 company with posh offices in Southern California. These folks had a fancy boardroom outfitted with all the fixings, mahogany table, plush carpeting, leather high back chairs, and a huge projection screen that we planned to use to demonstrate our software products. This display probably measured 9 feet by 12 feet and was impressive in every way, save one. The words "No Input Detected" were indelibly visible on the screen.
As most folks recall, a few years ago, virtually all monitors, displays, and screens were susceptible to what is commonly known as "screen burn." That is, images or words that were continuously displayed in the same spot on a monitor would eventually be permanently evident. This typically occurred when the computer was on but no one was actively using it.
The solution to this, at least for personal computers, was a simple innovation known as the screen saver.
Basically, a screen saver alternates the images displayed when the computer is on and idle. This prevents screen burn.
The early screen savers were primitive, allowing only a finite set of images to be displayed. As time went by, screen savers became more advanced, allowing people to pick and choose the types of pictures or words to be shown. As a result screen savers began to be used for entertainment purposes as well.
Advances in display technology, however, have rendered screen savers unnecessary, at least from a functional perspective. This is because modern LCD displays are not susceptible to screen burn.
But this fact hasn't stopped people from using screen savers. Other than annoying their officemates with pictures of their incorrigible kids, what damage could possibly be done?
As it turns out, leaving your monitor on with the screen saver going can actually burn a lot of energy. For large organizations, this can be huge -- so much so that recently, Telstra, Australia's largest phone company, went to all-black screen savers on their 36,000 corporate PC's. Telstra claims this move is the equivalent of taking 140 cars off the road for a year.
What's curious about the Telstra move is that they could have saved even more energy by simply setting their displays to turn off after a few minutes. This is easily done with modern operating systems and displays.
With the price of energy skyrocketing nowadays, short of buying a hybrid car, this is one of the easiest things folks can do to help out.
Remember that old fashioned CRT monitors, as well as plasma-based displays, are still susceptible to screen burn. Further, CRT monitors don't save energy when they aren't displaying anything.