Is your website costing the planet?
If every person in Ireland viewed ten webpages a day, it would create emissions equivalent to driving 754,342 miles in a car
Have you ever stopped to think about the carbon footprint of your website? You probably know that storing data to the cloud uses energy, but so too does accessing websites, online books, streaming music, videos and using Apps. Research by Ovo Energy in 2019 found that if every UK adult sent one less ‘thank you’ email a day we would save more than 16,400 tonnes of carbon a year (equivalent to the emissions from 3,543 cars being driven for a year). Data centres consumed approximately 3% of global energy and accounted for 2% of global emissions in 2015 (equivalent to the aviation industry) and this is expected to triple by 2025 (read more about this in Tara’s book.
If every adult in the UK sent one less “thank you” email, it could save 16,433 tonnes of carbon a year – the equivalent to taking 3,334 diesel cars off the road, according to energy company, OVO.
Bloated websites with video backgrounds, multi-image carousels, rotating banners and other multimedia formats require large amounts of energy on an ongoing basis. It takes energy to digitally create and launch a website and then more energy again every time it’s accessed by someone on their device. If your website’s end user has a slow connection, loading time is further prolonged; creating even more emissions as they wait. Electricity powers the internet, so the amount of energy used, and the source of the energy are both important. Sourcing renewable electricity to power data centres and to charge our devices and run websites is one key action to take. Another is to make websites energy efficient so that they use less energy and as a result produce fewer emissions. Websites today are nearly four times the size they were in 2010 and this continues to rise (http archive).
Throughout our website redesign we were very conscious of its carbon footprint. Here are 3 things we did to reduce the carbon footprint of our website that you might find useful.
1. Measure the carbon footprint of your website.
There is a free tool to do this How is your website impacting the planet? provides data on the CO2 emissions per page view (you can see this displayed at the bottom of each page on our website and the annual energy consumption of your webpages. This allows you to compare your site to others and to set targets to reduce your emissions.
2. Increase the efficiency and usability of your website
We’ve designed a site that is mobile first, with reduced page loading speed times, and doesn’t have energy-hogging flash pages. This reduces what web developers call the ‘weight’ (in Kilobytes) of a website. Not only will your webpages load more quickly – it also makes your site accessible to people with limited internet connections, while reducing the energy they use to display. Most importantly, when your site load speed goes below 1 second, google indexes your brand name higher in search results. This is because google penalises heavy sites for slow load speeds. You can also reduce the number of times that webpages are loaded to save energy. Testing your site to ensure there is no redundant energy zapping content will increase efficiency. You can also remove distractions and steer people quickly to the pages they need. This will reduce bounce rates and maximize the user experience, saving energy by reducing unnecessary loading of pages.
3. Switch your website to renewable energy
Look for a web hosting provider that uses green energy. You can start by checking out the Green Hosting Directory on the Green Web Foundation website
Our website isn’t perfect. There is a challenge and a balance to be found between providing information and a good user experience and maximizing efficiency. But given how much time we all spend online these days and how important websites are in marketing, sales and sharing information, every step in the right direction is worthwhile.
Intrigued to learn more? Contact us to learn more about our services. We can help you to reduce emissions while connecting with your stakeholders.
NOTE: Statistic in first quote calculated based on carbon footprint of average website 0.00461kg / CO2e X 6.6. million people on the Island of Ireland X 10 webpages per day and converted using the US EPA greenhouse gas equivalency converter.