Static GUI

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Drawing animations in graphical user interfaces consume more energy than static equivalents. Redrawing an image on a screen costs energy both in computing the new image, transmitting it to the screen and actually having the screen refresh. Reducing these steps can result in energy savings.

In modern computer games with realistic graphics and many frames per second, often the GPU and CPU are pushed to the highest possible power-state to keep up. This increases power consumption directly, but even indirectly because the cooling equipment has to be turned up.



On systems with limited resources disabling animations can also free up resources that can be used to increase the performance and with that the user experience.


Many casual users enjoy small animations like wobbly windows or the cube effects as introduced by Compiz in the Linux operating system. Having a more static GUI can decrease their experience.


Disable operating system animations

A common way to improve battery lifetime on laptops that is often used on OEM installations of operating systems is disabling all non-functional animations when a laptop is unplugged from the power net.

Screen savers

Screen savers were necessary to keep computer screens from burning in. LCD screens do not burn in any longer. By many computer manufacturers screen savers are no longer enabled by default because of the energy they consume.


An extreme case of how energy efficient static GUI's can be, is demonstrated by modern e-reader devices. Modern e-readers consume no energy when displaying static data from an e-book.


At FOSDEM2009 in Brussels Matthew Garrett from Red Hat had an interesting [http// talk] about aggressive power management on Linux. He mentioned ways of powering down the GPU, but also mentions interesting measurement data on animations:

  • A blinking cursor consumes 2 Watts
  • Moving a mouse cursor around consumes 15 Watts


This best practices was recognized as such by IT professionals, described in Energy efficient software.
This best practices is mentioned in:
Nick Jones. 2007. Eight Software Approaches Can Enable Energy-Efficient Computing. Gartner research publication.

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